Gift giveaway helps Northwest Philadelphia families in need

City Councilwoman Cindy Bass and staff got into the holiday spirit on Saturday morning with a gift giveaway for Eighth District families in need.

Drawing upon donations collected at Bass’ inaugural “Party with a Purpose” held earlier in the month, local families and children were invited to Lonnie Young Recreation Center in Germantown to take their pick of a variety of holiday gifts, including toys, games, and winter clothing.

The families benefitting from the giveaway were selected by Bass’ office, who were vetted to ensure that a true need existed and that they lived in the district, which includes Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Germantown and parts of West Oak Lane and Nicetown.

Additional toys were provided by Drexel University. Any leftover toys will be donated to homeless shelters to help ensure that all gifts have a home.

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Bass said the idea for the giveaway was a continuation of a holiday gift-giving tradition that occurred in the office of Congressman Chaka Fattah, where she formerly worked. Beyond this, Bass said the idea of being in need around the holidays has personal resonance, as her own mother was a single working woman.

Assisting Bass were over a dozen staffers and community volunteers. They  helped both children and adults select the perfect gift.

Manning one toy-laden table was Rosa Woods, Bass’ chief of staff, who said she always enjoys helping those who are less fortunate.

Recalling one resident who came in needing gifts for two toddlers, Woods said, “It felt good helping her to fill her bag.”

In addition to the volunteers, several community leaders were present helping parents make the right selections for their families, and to help keep an eye on the kids.

E. Louis Allen, pastor at nearby Fresh Anointing Outreach and Restoration Center, led a few children from his ministry to  Lonnie Young Recreation Center.

“It’s a good thing,” he said of the giveaway. “I was watching the kids, and they were really happy.”

Margaret Carroll, a committeewoman in the 12th Ward, said she was present to help with gifts for two children whose father just passed away.

“We’re trying to make this Christmas special for them,” she said. “We’re trying to make it memorable for more than the funeral.”

This isn’t the only holiday festivity for the Councilwoman. Bass will partake in a gift distribution event on Christmas Day. She’ll accompany Philadelphia police officers from the 14th District as they deliver presents to needy families.

As the giveaway drew to a close, Bass was referring to it as the “first annual” such event.

“Next year, it will be bigger, better, and with more of everything,” she said.

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