2018 SWBOCES Christmas gift collection

Giving Christmas to neighbors in need 

Hundreds of presents, adorned with bows, ribbons and brightly covered wrap, were collected, bagged and loaded onto vans at Southern Westchester BOCES campuses in Harrison and Rye Brook this week, bound for the Coachman Family Center in White Plains.

On Christmas morning, children from some 100 Westchester families will wake up to find these gifts under their trees.

“It’s just something the folks who work here at Southern Westchester BOCES love to do and feel strongly about taking part in, giving Christmas to our neighbors in need,” said Brian Howard, director of communications at SWBOCES. “It’s become a tradition, going back several years. It really speaks to the kind of people who work here.”

Giving trees at the Rye Brook administration building and at the Center for Interscholastic Athletics at the Harrison campus have slowly been surrounded by gifts in recent weeks. Staff from all SWBOCES divisions volunteer to shop for gifts for particular children from lists provided by the Coachmen Center.

Maria McGinty, Coordinator of SWBOCES Homeless Student Program, Director of Athletics Jennifer Simmons, Treasurer Christine Jansen and Dina Roselli, Secretary to School Administrator in the Center for Professional Development, coordinate the annual effort.

It’s an organization-wide effort, says Ms. McGinty, who works closely with various community organizations that serve families and individuals in need through SWBOCES’ Homeless Student Program.

 “They are all so generous, not only with their time but with the money and gift cards they donate for the kids,” McGinty said. “I can’t thank them enough. They are truly seeing to it that these kids have a special Christmas.”

An extra-nice twist to the effort is that the children actually receive the gifts from their parents or guardians, allowing them to give their children a special Christmas.