Linden’s ‘Caroling for a Cause’ and holiday gift drive ‘a work of heart’

Members of the Linden Public Schools family traveled around town on Dec. 10, 2018 “Caroling for a Cause,” spreading joy with holiday music and accepting donations for the district’s third annual holiday toy and gift drive.

Three buses transported carolers – along with Santa Claus – around the city to visit homes of residents who registered. Registration opened on Nov. 25 and all 70 time slots were filled in two days.

“Seeing everyone come together to spread joy to our community is truly beautiful,” said Annabell Louis, supervisor of student services and one of the organizers of the gift drive and caroling.

After the caravan hit all the houses on Santa’s list, everyone returned to Raymond Wood Bauer Promenade in downtown Linden for cookies and cocoa, and performances by the Linden High School Madrigals and Choir.

Carolers accepted donations for the holiday gift drive, which will help needy families around Linden. Each school in the district set up a giving tree in November with paper ornaments that identified gift requests. The schools accepted donations of toys and gifts, as well as cash and gift cards to be used to buy more gifts to be given to families who were identified by school-based social workers.

“The gift drive and ‘Caroling for a Cause’ has become one of the best things we do all year as a district family,” said Superintendent Danny A. Robertozzi, who joined the carolers at the promenade. “I’m so proud of the effort and good will that our staff and students put forward to make this project a reality year after year. It means so much to be able to spread a little holiday cheer to our local families in need – and to have some fun at the same time.”

The drive has gathered more than 1,000 gifts. Aside from individual school collections, among those to donate gifts were St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, the Reformed Church of Linden, St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, Calvin Presbyterian Church, and the senior citizens of Murawski Towers.

“Linden Public Schools and various community stakeholders collaborated and were able to bring smiles to the faces of over 300 children and families this holiday season,” Louis said. “Our annual Holiday Toy Drive and ‘Caroling for a Cause’ is a work of heart. This tradition continues to instill the beauty of giving back and paying it forward.

“I’m a true believer that a small act of kindness makes a big difference in someone else’s world,” Louis said. “The smiles on the students’ and families’ faces will be etched in my heart forever.”

(above) Linden Superintendent of Schools Danny A. Robertozzi with some of the teachers who took part in “Caroling for a Cause.” From left are Santa Claus, aka School No. 5 teacher Kayla Kluse, School No. 5 teacher Vanessa Kennaway, School No. 4 teacher Michelle Schweikardt, and School No. 10 teacher Linda Burt-Moquete.

(above) Students and staff singing at a house along the route during “Caroling for a Cause.”

(above) School-based social workers sorting gifts to be given to needy families for the third annual Linden Board of Education gift drive. From left are Marissa Hudak of School No. 9, Ryan Devaney of Linden High School, and Shira NesSmith of School No. 10.

(above) School No. 5 social worker JoAnn Peterson-Tyler organizing gifts for the gift drive.