Program gives families in need Christmas to remember
By David Yarger
John White, Rockin' With Santa creator, believes the holidays are a time to give back to others. Over the last month, White, alongside volunteers, did that and then some this winter.
On Dec. 10, White helped gift over 2,000 presents to families in need in the Tonawanda-North Tonawanda area.
White said there were about 140 families who came and every child received, on average, about three gifts.
When families walked in to receive gifts, White said jaws were on the floor reacting to how many donations were received.
"If you didn't have goosebumps then you're not human," White said. "The looks we received were of thanks, and it was kind of like when you're in a candy store and eyes open widely. It was amazing."
White added, the campaign means a lot to him and he enjoys it.
"For us, it makes our Christmas. It's really what Christmas is all about," White said.
Groups and citizens donated to the campaign, as several barrel drop-off sites were set up around the T-NT area. Donations were accepted until two days before the gift giving, on Dec. 8.
White said one of his favorite parts from this year's event came via a letter from one of the family members receiving gifts.
"It was really heartwarming," he said. "The letter said 'thank you from the bottom of my heart, the event has been a big help and we love you guys,' which was pretty cool to receive from one of the families."
White said gifts were categorized by age, 0-16 years, and some children received gift cards and other stocking stuffers. White said he couldn't have done the event without the help of 25 adults working and local organizations like Dollar General, who donated around 800 toys.
In an earlier report, White praised the T-NT area for the support, as well.
"In a community like Tonawanda and North Tonawanda; it's a small community with a big 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.
For around 20 years now, the Rockin' With Santa campaign has made it possible for local families in need to have a successful holiday season, and also, one they'll never forget.