JACKSON TWP — Part of the magic of the holidays is helping others to make their season bright.
Neighbors for Neighbors, a nonprofit organization, buys gifts for needy families in the Seneca Valley School District and elsewhere so they can have gifts on Christmas.
It delivered hundreds of gifts to the Seneca Valley administrative offices Wednesday. It took three cars and a trailer to bring all of the gifts.
Linda Andreassi, communications director for the district, said in mid-October the principals and the guidance counselors were sent a form to identify families who needed help this holiday season.
The names of families helped by the organization were confidentially gathered by the staff in all nine of the district's buildings, Andreassi said.
Amy Roy, Dani Jo McLane and Jeanette Valentine, co-founders of Neighbors for Neighbors, worked together to get all of the gifts for the students.
Roy said initially the group focused on needy families in Pittsburgh, but after talking to Seneca Valley officials, they realized the need to help families in their own community.
“It is important to us because these are the kids that our kids are going to school with,” Roy said. “It was important to us to do as much as we could locally.”
Roy said the organization helps families in the Seneca Valley, Hopewell, Mars and Central Valley school districts. It also helps group homes and four or five foster homes in Pittsburgh.
But the majority of the organization's focus is on Seneca Valley, and it is able help 154 families, Roy said.
“We feel like it is neighbors helping neighbors. It is a community, and we are just trying to help others that are in need at the moment,” McLane said.
The Cranberry Township Municipal Building, Young Brothers Tae Kwon-Do and 9 Round all had trees up with wish lists on them for people to take to buy for a family, McLane said.
Roy said help from their friends, neighbors and coworkers also was sought.
“The wish lists are comprised of either wants or needs,” McLane said. “Kids just ask for basic things that people take for granted.”
Andreassi said each wish list is customized to the child with specific sizes for cloths, colors they like and the specific toys they want.
McLane said many items on the wish lists are comforters, sheet sets, clothes and basic household items.
Some of the shoppers help families who are without furniture. Some of the items given are a futon and a dresser. Another student will get a kayak and several others will get laptop computers.
Andreassi said wrapping paper also was bought for each family so the parents could wrap the gifts and feel like they were involved in the process.
“This is really a community effort,” McLane said. “We do some shopping with monetary donations, but there are people who go out and they shop for these wish lists, they are the reason we could do it ...
“We are very lucky to have the support to do it.”