Many families were able to provide their children with gifts this holiday season thanks to the organization Plainfield Connections with donations from the Fanwood PBA, the Scotch Plains- Fanwood Police Athletic League and the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity at Stevens Institute of Technology.
Due to either monetary or gift donations, the three organizations made it possible to buy gifts for 40 families that are part of the Plainfield Connections program, an organization based out of the Muhlenberg Campus of JFK Health Systems which provides home visitations to many families living below the poverty line.
According to Jenny Fischbein, Director of Plainfield Connections, ”Certified Home Visitors meet with at-risk families in their homes, evaluate the families’ circumstances, and connect families to the kinds of help that can make a real difference in a child’s health, development, and ability to learn.”
Dianne Howarth of the Fanwood Police Department helped organizing the gift purchasing and wrapping, Fischbein said. Members of the Fanwood Police Department assisted Howarth in delivering the gifts to staff at Plainfield Connections, who began distributing nearly 100 gifts to the families this past week.
Each year, the Fanwood PBA has donated to a coat drive in Newark, but once they heard of Plainfield Connections and the ability to help out locally in Union County, they immediately jumped on the idea.
“It was a no-brainer for us to help, that’s what we do,” said Phil Ugone, President of Fanwood PBA.
Plainfield Connections has been running the holiday gift-giving program for 15 years. Since many of the families live below the poverty line, some parents choose to hold onto the gifts to give to the children for Christmas, Fischbein said. However, other children began receiving gifts this week.
“They(the staff) said that the children’s eyes just lit up when they were presented with the presents,” Fischbein added.
In addition to their work with Plainfield Connections, the Fanwood PBA is donating gifts to the "Holiday Giving Tree" which benefits residents in need living in either Fanwood or Scotch Plains. The tree is located outside of Fanwood Borough Hall and includes the names of children to choose from. Also, the PBA will be donating to the First Children School in Fanwood to assist them with their holiday programs, Ugone said.
Howarth said that since the PBA found a program in Union County, they will probably continue working with Plainfield Connections in coming years.
Fischbein also said she hopes the Fanwood PBA will keep the organization in mind and that they seemed very interested in the impact Plainfield Connections makes on families and the community.
“The very dedicated members at the Fanwood PBA, Scotch Plains-Fanwood PAL and the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity gesture truly made the holiday season joyous for these families that live such difficult lives,” Fischbein said. “We could not be more pleased with the outcome.”