A few days after Christmas every year, a packet of thank you notes arrives at our Woodbridge office –neatly handwritten messages of gratitude from parents of some of the neediest children in the area.
Notes like these:
“You made my son the happiest person in the world. I am glad you put a smile on his face and he wasn’t sad on Christmas.”
“We were struggling to pull Christmas together. This was the best surprise we have ever had!”
“One day I will pay it forward.”
Nichols Zauzig and First Guardian Title, along with other local businesses and individuals, take part in a grass-roots program every holiday season that provides Secret Santa Shopping Sprees to disadvantaged families in Prince William County.
The outreach began over 25 years ago with a small group of local businesses banding together to purchase Christmas presents for disadvantaged children attending Featherstone Elementary. Over time it has grown and, in 2018 the event included 17 schools. Woodbridge residents Diane Gish and Kim Rogers have carried the torch for many years, organizing and fund raising for this event. They coordinate with local elementary school guidance counselors, who choose which families will participate in the program.
Twenty-seven local businesses/organizations and 45 individuals/families contributed a record high $18,020 to the program last year, and this year’s total will likely exceed it. The donations are translated into Target gift cards to be used on a big shopping day at the Target in Fortuna Plaza in Dumfries.
About a week before Christmas, the identified families gather at the store, along with Ms. Gish, Ms. Rogers and other volunteers. Then the fun begins! Parents fill up their carts with toys and clothing for their kids “from Santa” and volunteers facilitate the purchases using the Secret Santa donations.
We’re proud to say our generous employees’ donations made Nichols Zauzig/First Guardian a top contributor this year, providing enough to support the needy children from one entire elementary school. That was the goal, said Terri Ireland, our Office Manager, who has organized this effort for the firm since the program’s inception.
“When I see a grown man cry because I hand him $140 to shop for his kids, I feel like I should do this every week,” Ms. Gish remarked, adding, “this program touches a lot more people than just the families we help.”
The gift of giving like this is everlasting, especially when a child’s thank you note reads: “This is very nice of you. Thank you for your good heart.”
Wishing all of our clients and friends a very meaningful and memorable holiday season,
The attorneys and staff of Nichols Zauzig