Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of more than 300 corporate, community, and individual donors to the Wonderfund, an all-time record 45,984 Massachusetts children served by the Department of Children and Families are receiving Christmas and holiday gifts this week.
That represents a 13.9 percent increase from 2016 in the number of children served by the holiday gift drive through requests for gift sponsors from DCF social workers, said Wonderfund Executive Director Jennifer Kitchenham. “We’re working to fulfill as close to 100 percent of the requests as we can,” Ms. Kitchenham said. “From Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy to leading Massachusetts businesses to scores of big-hearted donors who went shopping for a child they just knew by name and age and size, the Wonderfund has been blessed with an outpouring of generosity from all across our state,” said Wonderfund CEO Erin Murphy Rafferty. “We are so grateful they are bringing the joy and magic of this holiday season to all these children and young people.”
Massachusetts First Lady Lauren Baker, who serves as vice chair of the Wonderfund (known for 19 years as the DCF Kids Fund before its relaunch in June) added: “Our long-term goal with the Wonderfund is to double the number of children we can reach year-round, to make moments that matter and change the course of their lives for the better. Increasing the impact of the gift drive so much this year is a huge step in fulfilling the Wonderfund’s promise for our children and young people in DCF care. I am so profoundly grateful to everyone who has contributed.”
Just a few of the many examples of generosity that propelled the holiday gift drive to its successful conclusion this year:
- The Patriots’ Kyle Van Noy sponsored a Christmas tree donation at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough that included trees, lights, ornaments, and gifts for 119 families, and also sponsored a shopping trip to Modell’s for 20 children.
- Ernst & Young, Iron Mountain, and Public Consulting Group provided major financial support and gift sponsorships, including funds for gift cards for teens served by DCF.
- Dell/EMC sponsored gifts for 1,000 children.
- Hasbro donated toys for 500 children.
- In response to just a single comment on a Facebook group post by Wonderfund CEO Erin Murphy Rafferty, over 50 of Erin’s Medford, Massachusetts, neighbors filled her garage with gifts for DCF-supported children, a story you can read more about at http://medford.wickedlocal.com/news/20171218/more-than-50-residents-volunteer-to-sponsor-children-in-need-through-wonderfund
- The Lenox Hotel in Boston cleared out one of its deluxe suites for the month of December and invited visitors, neighbors, and business partners to fill the room with gifts that went to children served by DCF’s Hyde Park field office.
- Edaville USA kicked off the holiday season with free visits, Thomas the Tank Engine train rides, and dinner for 2,300 Wonderfund kids and their parents, foster parents, guardians, and siblings.
“Our practice absolutely loves being involved in this wonderful project,” said Jillian Costa of Woburn & North Andover Pediatric Associates, which helped collect dozens of gifts for Wonderfund kids. “Getting our group involved in this really helps us kick off the holiday season with open hearts and a sense of purpose.”
About the Wonderfund
- The Wonderfund, a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) federally tax-exempt charity, was formerly known as the DCF Kids Fund and relaunched in June 2017 with support from Massachusetts First Lady Lauren Baker, who serves as the Wonderfund’s vice chair. The Wonderfund has a vision to provide resources and opportunities, above what state funding can do, for the more than 50,000 children engaged with DCF on any given day:
- Emergency and transitional items: Children placed in DCF care, some with no more than the clothes on their backs, are given a duffel bag that contains clean, seasonally appropriate clothing, new pajamas, toiletries, and an age-appropriate item of comfort such as a teddy bear.
- Enrichment opportunities: All children involved with DCF are eligible for funding from the Wonderfund to access enrichment activities like summer camp, arts & music lessons, sports, SAT preparation, or vocational training that can change the trajectory of their lives for the better.