Holiday gifts will be delivered to 125 children in foster care or state custody through the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) thanks to the generous donations made by employees of UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division.
The initiative began five years ago and is still led today by Jeanette Maillet, an associate program director in the Center for Health Care Financing. She connects with the DCF Area Office in Chelsea to get wish lists obtained from the children and pairs them with Commonwealth Medicine employees. The holiday collection is organized by the Wonderfund, a private, nonprofit, that serves children engaged with DCF.
Along with the child's wish list, each gift-giver receives information about the child, including their clothing and shoe size, what clothing items are needed, and two toy requests. Children aged two months to 17 years have their wish come true when they receive a customized package that may include clothing, books, sporting items, gift cards and/or toys.
Support for this initiative has grown over the years, from 50 kids in year one to 125 kids this year. Commonwealth Medicine employees from office locations in Boston, Charlestown, and Shrewsbury, as well as 20 other staff locations across Massachusetts, participated in the gift giving this year. There are plans to expand the program next year.