Volunteers and United Way of Bucks County staff came together Friday to begin putting a bow on this year’s Holiday Gift Card Drive for older kids and teens.
The United Way’s drive is striving to give a holiday to more than 810 Bucks County older kids and teens in the area. The number of requests, checking in at 810, is the largest request the organization has had since it started the drive.
“The support from the community has continued to come in and we are very grateful,” said Danielle Bush, the nonprofits director of community and volunteer engagement.
By Friday, most of the donations had already rolled in. Volunteers buzzed around the United Way’s Fairless Hills office compiling gift cards into sets for boys and girls between 12 and 18. When the proper number of gift cards was set aside, books to match the kids’ age were also included. The goal, Bush explained, is to give kids who might otherwise not have a Christmas something to open.
Each older child and teen will receive a $25 gift card to a retailer and a $5 gift card to an eatery.
Donations to fulfill all the remaining requests were coming in through late Friday afternoon and will remain open through the weekend. A full accounting of how many older kids and teens will be helped is expected to be tallied Monday.
“From our perspective, this is a really important project,” said the president and CEO of the United Way of Bucks County, Marissa Christie.
While there are food and toy drives, nowhere else in the county helps people in these situations the same way the Holiday Gift Card Drive does. Christie said.
“Anything that the United Way can do to help a family that is struggling during the holidays, we’re thrilled to do,” Bush said. “It’s very fulfilling to know that a child will have something to hold for the holidays.
Families making requests have a number of different circumstances: homelessness, single parents, grandparents raising grand kids and more, all of them sensitive situations.
Many families tear up and cry when they come in to pick up the orders, Bush said.
The Friday volunteers came from Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Titusville New Jersey, the community and NewtownPANow.com, which has been a supporter of the Holiday Gift Card Drive.
Although Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ owner Johnson and Johnson is based in New Jersey, many of the workers live in Bucks County. Three years ago, the group began working to volunteer with the Holiday Gift Card. The team uses it as an addition to their annual holiday celebration.
“We’re so fortunate to be able to work for such a nice company and be here, and you need to think about the people who are less fortunate,” said Paul Mullen, the team leader of the volunteers.
The volunteers get more out of the work than do the recipients of the gift cards, Mullen said, explaining the warmth the team feels from doing good.