Making holiday wishes come true


By Glenn Battishill - [email protected]



United Way of Delaware County Director of Community Navigation Kelsey Sommers Fox hands a gift to a student at Willis Education Center during the organization’s Holiday Wish campaign.

United Way of Delaware County Director of Community Navigation Kelsey Sommers Fox hands a gift to a student at Willis Education Center during the organization’s Holiday Wish campaign.


Courtesy photo | The United Way of Delaware County

Mandi Ransom, a volunteer at the United Way and a member of its Women’s Leadership Network, helps move donated toys and other items during the charity drive.


Courtesy photo | The United Way of Delaware County

This year, the United Way of Delaware County along with local organizations and nonprofits came together to provide Christmas gifts and supplies to more than 100 children in the county.

Gina Grote, vice president of the United Way of Delaware County, said the organization has been doing its Holiday Wish campaign for years, and it continues to grow every year. Grote said the first year the organization did the charity drive, it helped 25 foster kids.

“This year we helped 110 children and seven adults,” Grote said. “What we do is we work together with some of our local nonprofits and agencies here in Delaware County and talk to them about some of the needs that their clients and residents that they’re servicing have. It’s grown immensely … It’s not just, ‘This child would like this toy.’ It’s fulfilling their holiday wish list.”

Grote said the United Way worked with Delaware County Jobs and Families Services, guidance counselors at the Delaware Area Career Center, the Moms Offering Mentoring Support program at the Delaware County Juvenile Court, and the Willis Innovation Learning Lab at Delaware City Schools.

“We talked to each student,” Grote said. “We learned about their home lives and what they’re going through. They were all very humble, and many of them were wary to ask for things. (We said), ‘You deserve to have some holiday wishes fulfilled.’ (We) complied a (signup sheet) and posted it, and within a week, everyone had been adopted.”

Grote added other groups helped out with large donations, including DelCo Water, which donated toiletry kits and hoodies of all sizes, and a local church that donated close to 100 blankets.

“(Those are) things we take for granted,” Grote said. “They needed them. So many people helped make this happen. So many groups came together.”

Grote said the event raised close to $30,00 worth of donations.

“It makes you tear up to see how generous and kind our community is,” she said. “One of the students came up to me, hugged the staff, and told us it was the best Christmas he had ever had. That’s just so heartwarming. It lets them know that there are people who really care and want to help.”

Grote said she enjoyed meeting with the students.

“My favorite part was sitting down with the students and getting to know them and their lives … and their dreams,” she said. “That was really special to me.”

Grote added the event is here to stay.

“It warms the heart,” she said. “(We’re) absolutely doing it next year. It continues to grow. It’s been amazing to see.”

United Way of Delaware County Director of Community Navigation Kelsey Sommers Fox hands a gift to a student at Willis Education Center during the organization’s Holiday Wish campaign.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2021/12/web1_UW3.jpgUnited Way of Delaware County Director of Community Navigation Kelsey Sommers Fox hands a gift to a student at Willis Education Center during the organization’s Holiday Wish campaign. Courtesy photo | The United Way of Delaware County

Mandi Ransom, a volunteer at the United Way and a member of its Women’s Leadership Network, helps move donated toys and other items during the charity drive.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2021/12/web1_UW1.jpgMandi Ransom, a volunteer at the United Way and a member of its Women’s Leadership Network, helps move donated toys and other items during the charity drive. Courtesy photo | The United Way of Delaware County

By Glenn Battishill

[email protected]

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.