For 15 years, The Arc Central Chesapeake Region has made sure that children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families don’t have to go without Christmas. This year, The Arc was joined by M&T Bank in making its Holiday Giving program a success.
Volunteers from both organizations convened at The Arc’s headquarters in Severn to wrap gifts for 200 local children and their families on December 17. M&T Bank employees adopted seven of the benefiting children, purchasing gifts on their holiday wish list. As the lead sponsor for Holiday Giving, the bank also donated $10,000 in gift cards for parents to ease the burden of preparing for the holiday season.
The Holiday Giving program began with about 40 kids and has grown each year, explained Catie Comer, director of development and communications for The Arc Central Chesapeake Region. This holiday season, Holiday Giving helped 189 kids and their families.
“Our program focuses on children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their siblings, and we really pride ourselves on taking care of the whole family,” Comer said. “So, we’re not just buying toys or gifts for the child with a disability; we’re taking care of all their siblings, and we provide a $100 gift card for groceries so they can put together a holiday meal."
M&T Bank has been involved for five years. Many employees, like Jason Weisberg, vice president of M&T Bank’s Chesapeake region, like to be active participants.
“As an organization and then personally, a lot of our people adopt kids, actually purchase the gifts,” he said during the event on December 17. “And then today, [they] are going to be volunteering their time. M&T as an organization gives its employees 40 hours of paid volunteer time, so today we’ll have about 20 people here to coordinate all the gifts for pick-up for the parents.”
It’s not too early to adopt a family for next year. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-353-1137.
Weisberg said it’s a great feeling to give back.
“The process, from the beginning, is really exciting,” he said. “As an organization, myself and my family personally, we adopt kids. We get all the excitement of actually shopping and buying the gifts. I think one of the most rewarding things about this program that’s different from a lot of other programs is that The Arc really ensures that every single want or wish on a kid’s wish list is going to be received during the holidays.”