Members of the Linden Public Schools family traveled around town on Dec. 10 “Caroling for a Cause,” spreading joy with holiday music and accepting donations for the district’s third annual holiday toy and gift drive. 

Three buses transported carolers – along with Santa Claus – around the city to visit homes of residents who registered. Registration opened on Nov. 25 and all 70 time slots were filled in two days.

“Seeing everyone come together to spread joy to our community is truly beautiful,” said Annabell Louis, supervisor of student services and one of the organizers of the gift drive and caroling.

After the caravan hit all the houses on Santa’s list, everyone returned to Raymond Wood Bauer Promenade in Downtown Linden for cookies and cocoa, and performances by the Linden High School Madrigals and Choir.

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Carolers accepted donations for the holiday gift drive, which will help needy families around Linden. Each school in the district has set up a giving tree and is accepting donation of toys, gifts, cash and gift cards. The cash and gift cards will be used to buy more gifts to be given to families that have been identified by school-based social workers.

“Linden Public Schools and various community stakeholders collaborated and were able to bring smiles to the faces of over 300 children and families this holiday season,” Louis said. “Our annual Holiday Toy Drive and ‘Caroling for a Cause’ is a work of heart. This tradition continues to instill the beauty of giving back and paying it forward.”

social workers sorting gifts

Left, social workers Marissa Hudak of School No. 9, Ryan Devaney of Linden High School, and Shira NesSmith of School No. 10 sorting gifts at the district's Professional Development Resource Center. Right, social worker JoAnn Peterson-Tyler sorting gifts at School No. 5.

The drive has gathered about 1,000 gifts, and donations are still coming in. Aside from individual school collections, among those to donate gifts were St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, the Reformed Church of Linden, St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, and Calvin Presbyterian Church, and the senior residents of Murawski Towers.

“I’m a true believer that a small act of kindness, makes a big difference in someone else’s world,” Louis said. “The smiles on the students’ and families’ faces will be etched in my heart forever.”