Cranford Students Donate More Than 600 Gifts To Children At Cerebral Palsy League

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CRANFORD – The students of the Orange Avenue Elementary School in Cranford loaded the buses of the Cerebral Palsy League (CPL) of Cranford with more than 600 gifts for the children of the CPL’s Kaleidoscope Early Intervention program on Dec. 17.

This is the fifth year the school’s students have donated holiday presents to the Kaleidoscope children.  The school’s staff and parents also participate.
The annual program, named Kaleidoscope of Hope by the Orange Avenue students, entails students being assigned specific children of the CPL program, which serves children with developmental disabilities and their families.

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As gifts are brought to school they are placed in a pile in the center hallway that grows as the holiday season progresses.  This year the pile nearly reached the ceiling while spreading more than 10 feet in each direction.
At the end of the collection period students from the third or fourth grade class line up and carry the gifts from the pile to the waiting buses of the CPL, an annual ritual that brings smiles to the faces of the students as they circle back for more gifts to deliver.

The program is the brainchild of Brian Gilroy, student assistance counselor at the school, and Karen DiGiovanni, a parent of students who attend the school.  Five years ago Maria Cassella, director of the Kaleidoscope program, approached school officials about ways the program and school could partner for the benefit of the children and Gilroy and DiGiovanni answered the call with the holiday gift idea.

“That first year I showed up and was overwhelmed by the number of gifts,” Cassella said.  “At the time we had 70 children in the program. Each year the number of children in our program increases and the generosity of the students, parents and staff of the Orange Avenue Elementary School increases, as well.”

The benefits of the program flow in two directions, according to Gilroy.
“It creates a culture of caring and generosity,” he said.  “It’s very much in line with our character education program – kindness, helping others.  And the cool part of this is the result of everyone’s effort is right there to see every day.”

Sarah Jacobus and Maria Schwartz are two eighth-graders at Orange Avenue who have been involved in the program since its inception and helped with its organization this year.

“It feels awesome knowing you get to help all these kids,” said Jacobus.  “I got my child a giant teddy bear.  It’s smothered under there somewhere.”
“I got my child a Candyland game, a drawing book and crayons,” said Schwartz.

Cranford Students Donate More Than 600 Gifts To Children At Cerebral Palsy League
The students of the Orange Avenue Elementary School in Cranford recently donated more than 600 gifts for the special needs children of the Kaleidoscope Early Intervention Program at the Cerebral Palsy League, also located in Cranford.  Kneeling before the pile of gifts are (left to right): Maria Cassella, director of the Kaleidoscope program; students Sarah Jacobus and Maria Schwartz; Brain Gilroy, student assistance counselor at the school; and Carmela Colosimo, assistant principal.


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