Paula and Ron Benedetti started “Christmas Is for Kids” 25 years ago. The project assists families in need at Christmastime. They are provided with one shirt, one pair of pants, one sweatshirt, one set of pajamas, and one toy for each child in the family.

Kendra Galary started helping out with the “Christmas IS for Kids Project” back in 2009. She was a substitute at Keith Middle School at the time and she wrapped gifts for the program. She is now a health teacher at Carlos Pacheco Elementary School in New Bedford and took over the project at the school about five years ago. Last year, they took care of about 25 families with a total of 90 kids. 2020 was unlike any other season she has had.

Photo Contributed by Kendra Galary

“I’ve never had a year like this,” said Galary. “We had almost 30 families from the school, with almost 120 kids between them. Not only that, but we helped two families from the New Bedford fire on Thanksgiving, a few families of servers, bartenders, and staff from local restaurants, a dozen kids from Acushnet, and three anonymous families in the area.”

The “Christmas Is for Kids Project” will assist 48 families with a total of 172 children this holiday season.

Galary became a little emotional discussing the project over the phone. “So many people went above and beyond. This is my biggest year yet. The donations were mindboggling. From cash, gift cards, toys, and food. It just blew me away.”

She starts getting her “Christmas Angels” that want to buy for the kids in October. She then assigns them a child or a family, depending on what they want. All gifts need to be wrapped and given to the family or child by December 10. Galary delivered the gifts to the families on Wednesday, December 16. Family and friends pack up their trucks and deliver all the gifts in one day.

Photo Contributed by Kendra Galary

This year, some of the gifts will not only include the usual items, but also food bags, a Market Basket gift card, and turkeys, depending on the needs of the family.

Galary did not expect for this year to be expanded the way it was, but she wasn’t going to turn anyone away. “You can’t say no. If these many people are willing to help others in need, you just can’t say no.” The pandemic did not impact her ability to run the operation as normal, but she believes that it played its part in making the donations as large as they were. “Even though so many people are struggling, they are also generous and giving. It’s weird how it worked out that way, but it’s awesome.”

Galary would like to extend a special thank you to all the sponsors that donated or volunteered to make it possible to provide extra gifts, food, and gift cards to children and their families this year. “They all deserve recognition. HUGE thank you to Jennifer and Robert Roderiques from Fairhaven Excavating for having a toy drive for us last week, making and donating 25 food bags and a very generous monetary donation along with Neighborhood Auto Services, Paul and Bernice Flanagan, Albert Santos, Custom Tek Inc., Friends of Jack, Brabo Benefits, Trial Family and Northern Wind Seafood for the turkeys."

"I couldn’t do this without 'my angels' - the 180 people from the staff members at Pacheco School, family, and friends who reached out to sponsor a child and my right-hand girl Mckensie Roderiques (teacher at Pacheco School) who helped me every step of the way."

Photo Contributed by Kendra Galary

Galary thinks she might change the name of the program next year, and call it the “Best Christmas Ever.” Because it’s about so much more than the toys. It’s a package.

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