The United Community Corporation will be hosting its second annual Holiday Express on Sunday, December 20 from 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at West Side Park in Newark.
The event will feature a free toy giveaway for children. It will also distribute free groceries, coats and socks to families as well as free family Christmas photos that will be printed on-site.
In preparation for the event, the United Community Corporation is hosting a Toy Drive and will be accepting toy donations until Monday, Dec. 14. Donations can be made on UCC’s Amazon Wish List, which will be delivered straight to UCC’s facilities for sorting and preparation. UCC is looking to serve children of three years and older at the event.
Anyone interested in donating toys another way can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or UCC’s Director of Youth, Family & Senior Services Yucleidis Melendez at Yucleidis.Melendez@uccnewark.org.
Melendez can also be reached for more information about the event, which has a goal of serving over 200 children.
“This event is really important because a lot of families have been struggling,” Melendez said. “A lot of people lost their jobs so families aren’t really able to buy their kids gifts. It may just be a toy for some people, but for these kids, it brings them the joy of having a present to open under their tree on Christmas morning. I’m so glad that UCC is able to provide this for them.”
The Toy Drive and Holiday Express are running with the help of Covenant House, Hope Bridges Us, Saydah’s Career Planning Adventure, Pads for Purpose, Amerigroup, Beauty for Ashes, Outlaw Apparel and Montclair Learning Center. The free family Christmas photos were made possible by community volunteer Carlos "MANHATTAN" Franklin.
While the event’s highlight is providing toys to children in the community, Melendez knows how crucial it is to also provide families with groceries, coats and socks. She has run events at West Side Park over the last several months and has seen first-hand a consistent rise in the numbers of those in need of help.
“We’ve seen an increase in our event numbers, which shows us that families need a lot of different things to survive,” Melendez said. “When I see the long lines outside of West Side Park for our events, it shows me that I have a lot of work to do because there are people that are really struggling more than we expect and more than we know.”
In addition to its events at West Side Park, United Community Corporation offers delivery services of up to 14 days worth of food to families in the City of Newark that have been forced to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure/contraction by way of its Champion House food pantry. For more information about that program contact Champion House manager Maria Torres at Maria.email@example.com.