Residents stepped from their cars early Thursday and endured the short walk through the mid- December rain to the township administration building.
They were there to bring to an end this year’s Blott Needy Kids Project.
At the beginning of November, Gretchen Reed, the project’s founder, and other commission members set trees in seven businesses around the township. On the branches, they hung cards with numbers representing gifts for which children of E.J. Blott Elementary had asked. Community members and business owners plucked the cards from the tree and bought the gifts on the card and dropped them off at the administration building. The project is in its 30th year now, and it always ends with one large collaborative effort of wrapping the gifts.
Thursday was wrapping day.
Eventually, 23 volunteers descended on the township meeting hall. Like workers on an assembly line, volunteers picked up bundles of gifts at the command center, bent over tables and wrapped the clothing, books, games and toys. And Jan Ferry, who kept records of the gifts and their assigned numbers, was the foreman.
Sharon Wathen has volunteered to wrap for the past five years.
“It shows two things about our community,” Wathen said about the project. “It shows that we are generous and that there is a need.”
Despite not knowing exactly how many presents residents brought to the building, Reed said it was by far the most she had seen.
“We were thrilled with the response,” Reed said.
In all, 32 families and 76 children will have presents awaiting them, she said.
This year also was the first time each child will receive at least one outfit, toy, a game, underwear, socks and pajamas.
And as a former teacher, Reed always has required that one book be given.
“The book is very important,” she said.
Throughout November and December, the township placed the gifts inside the old post office and other rooms throughout the building.
The floor in Trustee Jodi Stoyak’s office was covered with bags of gifts. She was forced to play a game of hopscotch just to reach her desk.
“We couldn’t even walk in here,” said Parks and Recreation Director June Smallwood of the post office.
The presents will be ready Saturday for pickup by the families or delivery to the houses by police.