By Journalist Ms. Jones
NEWBURGH – Recently at the Newburgh Activity Center, We Are Newburgh brought the North Pole to Newburgh with their Winter Wonderland. We Are Newburgh is a grassroots organization that began in 2013 that focuses on helping the community.
At the event, children received free coats and clothing, backpacks, school supplies, and a free Christmas present. They also met a cool Santa who was up dancing to hip-hop music and taking photos with the kids. Three-year-old Justin Larkins aka DJ Too kept the music flowing as he scratched records.
“Everything is ‘Mr. Me Too.’… ‘Oh, I wanna do it too.’ So, Whatever I do, he wants to do. So, we call him DJ Too,” said his mother Kanisha Henderson aka DJ Ms. Perfect Touch who is also a disc jockey. “I’ve been working with We Are Newburgh since they started, helping out… It’s beautiful. It’s a lot of selflessness. Everyone is really just having a good time.”
A good time was had by all. Chicken and waffles, turkey and mashed potatoes, and rice and beans were just a few of the foods served.
Hundreds of people attended Winter Wonderland. Many people donned umbrellas as they waited in a line that wrapped around the building. Al Feldman stood in the rain for an hour and a half.
“When it’s for the kids, it’s worth it. It helps financially… I’ve got three boys,” said Feldman who was able to get three coats. “That’s money right there. That’s like $150.”
Pedro Cruz brought his three daughters who received Christmas gifts, backpacks, and school supplies.
“People are going through hard times right now, but this makes it so we still believe in people,” said Cruz. “You can feel the spirit here… of Christmas… It doesn’t matter the race. It doesn’t matter where you [are] coming from. It’s one single spirit right now. Christmas. And we know that’s the Lord who keeps us together.”
Last year, We Are Newburgh drove a bus around to kids’ houses and delivered presents.
“We can serve more people here because you only have so much room on a bus… Last year we did one hundred thirty-seven families. This year, we’re looking at eight hundred families. It’s a big difference when you’ve got the North Pole instead of a sled,” said Joe Alvarez, founder and president of We Are Newburgh. “It’s about giving, sharing, and involving the community… The people know that there’s people out here that care.”
Some of this year’s sponsors and volunteers included We Are Newburgh, TEAM Newburgh, Onward to Recovery, United Way, Toys for Tots, Crystal’s Cupcakes, and Shapiro’s Furniture.
“I want to do it to help out the community… [The] underprivileged sometimes… can’t afford it and some people take it for granted. But, I want everyone to have the same opportunity,” said Noah Shapiro who is the grandson of former mayor Joan Shapiro.
Contact We Are Newburgh at www.wearenewburgh.com for more information about donating, volunteering, and events.