Both Lehmann and Schroth schools were lucky enough to be visited by Holiday Express this season and enjoyed a wonderful day of celebrating the holidays. At both locations, professional musicians and other adult volunteers led the group in carols and interactive songs and mingled with the children and adults in the audience. Their festive outfits and friendly, smiling faces were greeted with lively enthusiasm from students, clients and staff alike, and the atmosphere was alive with joy and excitement. Special guests included Elmo, Cookie Monster, The Grinch, Frosty the Snowman and, of course, Santa Claus himself. Walking through the crowd, they stopped to visit, giving hugs and posing for pictures.
Holiday Express was founded in 1993 by Tim McLoone, who believed that no one should be alone at the holidays. He gathered together a band of volunteers and came up with a program that uses music, fun group activities and a gift bag for each participant, in order to share the joy and caring that is so often lacking in many places the group visits. Over 2,000 volunteers work year-round to collect money, purchase food and gift bags and prepare for the actual events. There is no state or federal funding for Holiday Express and all items come from donations. This year Holiday Express visited 90 organizations in the tri-state area and served people with mental and physical challenges, veterans, individuals in addiction and recovery programs, people in poverty and homelessness and children with serious illnesses.
Every student and client at Lehmann and Schroth received a duffle bag with gifts that included blankets, toiletries and winter warmth. A final moment of gift giving occurred when Holiday Express’ Giving Partner, New Jersey Gravel & Sand, Inc. sent a representative to make a donation to LADACIN, presenting a check to Executive Director Patricia Carlesimo. It was a wonderful celebration, and we are so thankful to Tim McLoone and all of his Holiday Express volunteers for sharing their holiday spirit with us!