Donations go to children of families in need, provide Christmas gifts for holiday
By David Yarger
For around 20 years, John White's Rockin' With Santa campaign has helped kids in need around the Tonawanda and North Tonawanda area have a good Christmas.
White, the creator of the campaign, said the public outreach in past years has been phenomenal, and the campaign has been able to give each child about three gifts and stocking stuffers. He said the support is really something special.
"In a community like Tonawanda and North Tonawanda; it's a small community with a heart. It's really amazing and heartwarming to see ... without this event, there would be no Christmas for some families and we don't want the kids to get hurt by that," White said.
White added, the campaign couldn't be done without the community, and it really shows what a community can do.
The campaign has several drop-off sites where citizens can donate unwrapped gifts for kids ages 0-16. Donation sites include Tonawanda and North Tonawanda City Hall, Squires Tap Room, Fast Teddy's, Tonawanda Fire Headquarters, The Royal Restaurant, the Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas, Dollar General, Elks Lodge, Submasters and more.
White said the event came to fruition when he decided to do something to give back.
"At one time, my wife and I were in the same situation, so I figured I could do something for those in need. When we decided to do it, it was just my wife and I, the two of us. After we did it, a few people reached out to help and we're helping almost 160 families, which sounds good, but that means more people are hurting. We have about 25 people that once they help, they stay for good," White said.
St. Francis Outreach, St. Mark's Lutheran Church, the Elks in Kenmore, the YWCA and the St. Vincent de Paul Society have assisted the campaign in sending a list of families in most need.
The event sees over 2,000 gifts donated per year, some coming from the North Tonawanda honors students to the Chamber of Commerce donating from their Christmas party.
Barrel pick-up at the drop-off sites is slated for Dec. 8, while families will come in on Dec. 10 to receive the donated gifts.
White said he looks forward to the outreach this year and he's happy to reside in the T-NT area.
"I'm very fortunate to live in a city like this. I'd rather live in a small city with a big heart, compared to a wealthy neighborhood with no care whatsoever. A lot of people see that heart," White said.
To donate a monetary gift, send it to "Kids," PO Box 96, Tonawanda, NY 14150-0096. Citizens can also visit the donation sites listed to give to children in need. For more information, contact John or Kate White at 716-692-6306.