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Letters to the Editor: Week of Feb. 5, 2014

Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:17 am

Good works come from Christmas Mother Program

The Christmas Mother Committee is pleased to report that 297 children were served through the supplemental program to help families with Christmas gifts. Through the support of 26 churches, 14 businesses and organizations and 22 individuals, those children experienced a more complete Christmas time through the efforts of many caring people in our community. We thank those donors, and particularly Beale Memorial Baptist Church, for offering space all week for us to set up, receive, sort and then distribute the gifts. We thank the many workers who added themselves to the effort that week and during the distribution.
A meeting was held on January 27, to plan for the 2014 Christmas Mother program and we are thrilled that Rev. Dr. Griselda Bayton will once again represent this effort. The timeline has been set, the facility reserved and the workers are ready to help the children in our community and their families at this very special time of the year.
The Christmas Mother Committee members also want our community to know that we are saddened by recent news about a former Christmas Mother.
We are distressed regarding the news articles about the work of the Christmas Mother effort.
First and most important, we want to assure the community that no child was left un-sponsored because of lack of funds. During that period, all children who qualified to receive gifts were fully covered by sponsors.
It should be known that Essex County Social Services is not “in charge” of the Christmas Mother program. The committee was formed out of the Essex Resource Council, and several members stepped up to be responsible for implementing the program. The appointing of the Christmas Mother and the planning is accomplished by the members who are volunteers in our community.
Also, we do not take the parents shopping to Walmart or go out and get clothes, toys and provide a Holiday Meal. The recipient’s identities are protected, as are the sponsors. Gifts are received well before the applicants arrive at the pick-up site. The monies received are used to purchase gifts for those children who may not have been sponsored, or whose gifts are not deemed “complete” by the volunteers. At that point volunteer “shoppers” use the funds to shop at Wal-Mart using a code for each child, once again, to protect the identity of the recipients.
Policies and procedures have been put in place to assure that the funds of the Christmas Mother committee are fully protected. The volunteers that work on the committee are individuals who have unselfishly given time, talents and energy to making the lives of children in Essex County better at Christmastide. The committee looks forward to continuing these good works in collaboration with the Essex Resource Council, and with the help of our community.

Nancy Taliaferro
Christmas Mother Committee Member

-Editors Note: All information in last week’s story regarding embezzlement from the Christmas Mother fund came directly from law enforcement officer’s who have diligently been investigating the case.