Not only do the staff members at Warwick’s two Boys & Girls Club branches care about the children they serve, they also hold a special place in their hearts for club parents.
Through donations made by local businesses, the Norwood and Oakland Beach branches created a Christmas store at the Norwood Club for about 40 families in need to select gifts for their little ones at no cost. They have been hosting the event for nearly a decade.
From remote control cars, action figures, sporting goods and video games, to dolls, books, DVDs, puzzles, flash cards, board games and more, parents and guardians were invited to choose from presents three days last week to ensure their children a merry and bright holiday.
As parents, Executive Director Lara D’Antuono and Associate Executive Director Karin Kavanagh know how important it is to pick out perfect presents.
“The best part about Christmas is going out and getting to choose what my daughter gets for Christmas, and having the opportunity and the luxury to be able to do that for her,” said D’Antuono. “That’s what we do here. I just can’t imagine not being able to pick that special gift for my child. Seeing their faces Christmas morning when they open it is the best gift in the world as a parent.”
Kavanagh feels the same.
“I love that we are able to help them because if we weren’t here, they may not have that opportunity or they may not be able to do as much,” she said. “It’s very touching.”
Giving parents the option to shop the week before Christmas, said D’Antuono, allows them to get their children gifts they know their kids want.
Most parents know that more often than not, their children may want one toy in October, but wish for something entirely different come December.
“This affords them the luxury to accommodate that,” D’Antuono said.
Club staff members seek families to shop in the store. They speak with many parents on a daily basis, so they know the ones who are most in need.
“Some parents say, ‘We’re having a really tough year,’ and they know that we will be there for them,” Kavanagh said.
They also give parents individual dates and times to choose gifts, so they can shop privately.
“This is about letting them experience some of the Christmas magic,” said D’Antuono.
The Clubs also do their best to help during Thanksgiving. Stop & Shop donates 200 turkeys, as well as sides, and the Club distributes them accordingly.
D’Antuono and Kavanagh said they are grateful to all businesses and organizations that made contributions, including Gregg’s Restaurant, Bank Rhode Island, Coastway Community Bank, Baseball Bomb Squad Company, 31 Gifts, and Kohl’s, as well as Club board members, people of the community, and military braches, which funded a gift-giving campaign through the Dollar Tree. The items were perfect for stocking stuffers.
They are also thankful to them for helping set up the store.