October 15, 2012


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Holiday Party for Homeless and Other Vulnerable Children

The Legal Aid Society's Holiday Party for Homeless and Other Vulnerable Children will be held on Thursday, December 12, 2013, at Synod Hall on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, from 4 to 6 p.m. During the last few years, we began to include children from the Juvenile Rights Practice who have been abandoned, abused and/or neglected and also children from low-income families who are struggling to provide food and shelter. This year, we hope to include children who have a parent who is incarcerated. For many of these children, The Legal Aid Society party is the only source of holiday gifts.

Last year, the generosity of the staff of The Legal Aid Society and law firms and corporations that support the work of the Society made the holiday season a special one for approximately 500 children and their families during the annual Legal Aid Society Holiday Party for Homeless and Other Vulnerable Children.

Special thanks to the following for donating mountains of toys and games, contributions and tremendous volunteers: Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP; Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP; Hughes, Hubbard & Reed LLP; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP; Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Anello P.C.; Scholastic Books; Sidley Austin, LLP; Sullivan & Cromwell LLP; and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The New Amsterdam Singers and Legal Aid's own Human Resources Director Allan Fox entertained the children and A. Robert Pietrzak was a tremendous Santa Claus.

We thank you on behalf of the children for making last year's party a huge success. We are urging you to help again. We have lots of needs: We need loads of toys for all ages-- infants through teens and we need money-- $14,000 to pay for expenses for the party. Checks should be made out to The Legal Aid Society and sent to Pat Bath, Director of Communications, The Legal Aid Society, 199 Water Street, NYC, NY 10038. We also need volunteers to work at the party. We need people to help set up the day of the party. Everything you do makes this a great party for the children.

Good News:Some of the firms have already begun the toy collection and contribution drives. We will be in touch with the firms to arrange pick up times for the toy collection. We will make individual arrangements with each firm for toy pick-up.

Toys: We always need toys and gifts for children ages 12 through 16-- both boys and girls. Some firms give gift certificates of $20/$25. Sporting equipment is also popular. There is also a growing need for toys and gifts for infants and children ages 2 through 4.

Day of the Party:
9 a.m. at Synod Hall to help set up for the party.

Many volunteers are needed for the sorting and bagging of toys. We will have approximately 275 families-- that means 275 bags of toys. The first thing we do is sort the toys by ages. Families have registered by calling the Society's Communications & Public Information Office, providing the name of the family, the number of children, and the ages and gender of the children. Toys are bagged per family and a copy of the registration form is attached to the bag. After the bagging is completed, the bags of toys are lined up to make the distribution process more efficient. We bag by family in order to put in additional books and games for the children to share as well as at least one gift for each child.

Decorating the tree and hall: Volunteers are also needed to decorate the tree. We will also be decorating tables, the hall etc. We need folks to make jelly and bread sandwiches.

Setting up Crafts Tables and Face Painting Stations: We need volunteers to help get the crafts ready - cut outs, decorate a few hand puppets. Setting up Food Tables: We need volunteers to get the food tables set up.

Set up and decorate Gift Distribution Areas: There is a registration sheet for all families who have phoned in, which includes the name of the parent and the ages and gender of the children. Families receive a copy of the form when they enter Synod Hall and will present that form to pick up their bag of toys. A copy of the registration form is attached to the family's bag of toys. The sheets are orange, yellow or green to coordinate with the gift distribution areas which are decorated in those colors. The alphabet is divided into three-- thus the three colors. We have found, over the years, that this is the most efficient system. It makes it easier for both the families and the volunteers.

At the Party: Reception Table: We need 5 people (at least two Spanish speaking) to register people when they come in. (We like to line up alternates-so volunteers will have the opportunity to do a number of things at the party.) We also need folks to help with traffic control.

Reception Area: Two people are needed to have parents sign permission slips allowing The Legal Aid Society or photographers authorized by the Society to take photographs of their children. We have media coverage of this event. We also use photos in our publications and on our website.

Polaroid Photos: The children love being photographed with Santa Claus. Legal Aid Director A Robert Pietrzak has donated cameras and film so we can take photographs of the children with Santa Claus that they can take with them. Bonnie Bonica from the Legal Aid staff will be working with volunteers.

 Face Painting: We have face painting equipment so we need volunteers during the party to paint the faces of the children. This is a real favorite with the children. 
Craft Tables: Loads of volunteers are needed to work with the children. We have all sorts of crafts. The volunteers have as much fun as the children who really enjoy the individual attention. The crafts tables are a major hit.

Food Tables: We need scores of people to serve the soda and juice, to assist with the hot dogs (at least two people must be bunning the dogs) and to help replenish the bags of cookies, the jelly sandwiches and bags of potato chips. The little children often need help with the ketchup and mustard. (We provide plastic gloves for the food servers.) Close to the end of the party, I would appreciate a few volunteers wrapping the remaining hot dogs in aluminum foil so families can take them home.

Gift Distribution: We need loads of volunteers to help with the gift distribution. Each distribution center has it own team of volunteers.

Thanks for all your help. Please call or email with any questions. Thanks, Pat

Pat Bath
Director of Communications
The Legal Aid Society
199 Water Street
New York, NY 10038
347-245-5132 cell

The Legal Aid Society Newsletter is written and edited by Pat Bath, Director of Communications, with technical assistance from Jason Smallwood, Web Developer.

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