The COVID-19 crisis made it impossible for us to hold many of our scheduled sprees in 2020. However, our Board of Directors has developed a variety of virtual platform models that have enabled us to support children in need during the 2020 holiday season and we will continue to do so in 2021.
Our goal remains the same, whether in person or virtual: to create as many fun and memorable events as we can for children who would not normally have this opportunity.
On Tuesday, September 28th, 40 children from the Freehold Learning Center received $50 Target gift cards from Make A Smile and M&T Bank. Although hidden by their masks, there were smiles galore on the faces of the children, teachers and volunteers. Make A Smile Board Member Laurie Kaminsky (M&T Bank) wanted the children to be able to purchase school supplies and clothing, despite the temporary suspension of in-person shopping sprees at Target.
Thank you to the teachers, school administrators and M&T Bank volunteers – what a fantastic job!
Pictured below, left to right are:
Kari Schmidt, School Counselor; Principal Will Smith; Tammy Geffen, M&T Bank; Luz Perez, M&T Bank; Laurie Kaminsky, M&T Bank; Tara Coughlan M&T Bank; Joe Imbriale, M&T Bank; Joe Howe, School Superintendent
On Sunday, July 25th, children from the Brooklyn Scholars Charter School in Brooklyn, NY participated in a Back To School Shopping Spree at the Fulton Street Target store in Brooklyn. This was the first Make A Smile event that both the children and volunteers attended in person since December, 2019. It was so exciting to see everyone gather at the store to shop! Thank you to our spree coordinator, Koreen Jervis, volunteers from the NYS Society of Enrolled Agents (NYSSEA), Make A Smile board member Marylee Evangelista (and her volunteers), Andrew Mercardo (Target Store Leader) and his team of Target volunteers.
Please see some photos from the event:
On Sunday, April 18, 2021 children from the Livingston School in New Brunswick, NJ participated in a virtual Spring Fling Shopping Spree from their homes. They purchased clothing and other items online with $60. gift cards, assisted by volunteers. Thank you to spree coordinator Glenn Garlatti (Make A Smile Board), Aidaliz Cuevas from the Livingston School, and all of the volunteers. What an amazing job all of you did putting smiles on the children’s faces – THANK YOU!
On Sunday, April 25, 2021 students from the Hightstown, NJ school district shopped for clothing and other items, via Zoom, with $60. gift cards. They were assisted by volunteers from The Peddie School, who were awesome! A special thanks to the volunteer coordinator, Jim Truslow (The Peddie School) and student coordinator, Heather Gladkowski (WC Black Principal). Thank you also to volunteers Glenn Garlatti & Melanie Patrick (Make A Smile Board), Dr. Beth Davidoff and all of The Peddie School volunteers. The children were so excited and happy!
Sunday, December 13, 2020 – Twelve (12) children from the Milltown, NJ school district, community volunteers and Santa participated in a Virtual Holiday Shopping Spree via Zoom videoconference. The children shopped on Target.com with a volunteer, purchasing toys with gift cards provided by Make A Smile. Board member Glenn Garlatti was the spree coordinator of this very successful event. Thank you Glenn and all of the wonderful volunteers!
Sunday, December 13, 2020 – Twenty-two (22) children from P.S. 121 in Queens, NY joined volunteers via Zoom to shop for clothes. The children joined from their homes while volunteers from Target and the New York State Society of Enrolled Agents (“NYSSEA”) shopped in the Target store on Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst, NY. The merchandise was paid for by the volunteers, with gift cards provided by Make A Smile. Special thanks to Coordinator Koreen Jervis, Queens Blvd. Target store and all of the amazing volunteers!
Monday, December 14, 2020 – Laurie Kaminsky, Make A Smile Coordinator and Dr. Rocco Tomazic, Superintendent of Borough of Freehold Public Schools, brought holiday joy into the lives of children in need in that district. “Santa” paid a visit to the schools and dropped off wrapped toys and Target gift cards to the school administrators, to be given to the children. He posed for photos with the principals and school mascots and brought cheer to all. Many thanks to Laurie and Rocco, as well as Principals Will Smith and Patrick Mulhern. Special shout out to Rick Kaminsky (aka “Santa”). Awesome job!
In December, 2020, Coordinators Catherine del Rey and Dennis Kolodin teamed up with the Phoenix Schools to sponsor a family in dire need. They also purchased and donated toys to the school’s toy drive, which were collected and distributed with the help of volunteer Dawn Baumgartner. Hopefully next year we can look forward to an in-store holiday spree. As always, heartfelt thanks to Catherine and Dennis for their wonderful work!
Monday, January 18, 2021 – Twenty-one (21) children from Robin’s Nest Early Learning Center in Philadelphia shopped for clothes and toys from the school via Zoom videoconference meetings. Volunteers led by Jean Lu and Rob Sannelli of Vanguard assisted the children on Target.com, with gift cards provided by Make A Smile. Thanks to Aaliyah McCullough and staff at Robin’s Nest and all of the Vanguard volunteers. Thank you so much to Jean and Rob for the incredible job they did!