Monday, December 3, 2012

Help us brighten the holidays for children in RI shelters and foster care this year.

The Charlestown Democratic Committee (CDTC) and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 57 are running a gift drive for South County children in care of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families.

Charlestown resident Tim Quillen, Vice President of IUOE Local 57, has been coordinating the effort on his own for the last 10 Christmases. It started when his wife, Bev Quillen, asked him for help. As a high-school teacher, she was an adviser to a community-service club. When the kids in her club learned that teenaged children in group homes and foster care were too old for gifts from “Toys for Tots,” her club became part of the Rhode Island Holiday Teen Gift Campaign, a program started by social workers from the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).  One year the need was so great that Bev asked Tim if the IUOE Local 57 could help.  They did, generously -- and still do. Over the years the project has grown from 30 to 60-plus children, all of whom get Christmas gifts from the generous members of the IUOE Local 57 and others.  Those others now include Charlestown Democratic committee members, and, hopefully, more South-County Santas. 

About 10 of the children have been spoken for; 20 more await a "Santa" this holiday. The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee and IUOE Local 57 will be accepting gifts from generous "Santas" now until December 13. Contributors may buy one or a few of the gifts on the kids' lists.  

The kids range in age from 2 to 17 and have each made a wish list. A 6-year-old named Jackson, for example, wants cars, trucks, hand-held games, a camera, a photo album, Transformers, Batman, Spiderman, and clothes. He lists his clothing size as 7 boys' and his shoe size as 3. Lilly, age 17, would like clothes, gift cards, a watch, a camera, a photo album, jewelry, movies, or apartment supplies. There are 30 kids in all. Some are in foster care; some are in shelters. Some are moving into apartments of their own at the tender age of 17. 

Anyone interested in purchasing gifts for the kids may contact Tim Quillen before December 13 at (401) 364-3570 or at  Quillen will provide names and wish-lists of the boys and girls in need. All gifts must be unwrapped. Quillen and members of the CDTC will collect and wrap the presents in gift bags on December 17. Then Quillen will deliver the gifts to the DCYF in Providence. 

The DCYF has many more children in need of holiday gifts than the 30 on Quillen's list. The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee's goal is to appeal to Charlestown residents to meet all the kids' wishes. 

Members of the press are invited to the gift-wrapping on December 17 at the home of Tim and Bev Quillen at 95 Biscuit City Road in Charlestown.