History of the Wayne County Children’s Christmas Bureau:
Some 35 years ago a kind hearted case worker in the Department of Children and Youth was forced to place several children in temporary foster care during the holiday season. Realizing the impact this would have on the foster family and their plans for Christmas, the case worker enlisted the aid of co-workers and gathered gently used clothes and toys to ease the burden and ensure the recently placed children would have gifts to open on Christmas morning. Thus was born the Wayne County Children’s Christmas Bureau, fueled by the motto, “Every kid deserves a present on Christmas morning”.
Inspired by the success of that first act of kindness, the department expanded the program to include other families in need. The program grew to include input and support from other departments under the Wayne County Human Services umbrella. Gently used clothes and toys were collected from throughout the community. New toys and monetary donations flooded in from local businesses, community groups, families, and individuals. The influx of cash donations allowed the program to shop for new items to be included with the distributed items. As the program grew, so did the need for manpower to consolidate, sort, and distribute the donated items. The county volunteer program enlisted the aid of its volunteers to assist in this process. The program continued to grow and the Honesdale Area Jaycees were asked to help with distribution and logistics.
At its peak, the program provided a Merry Christmas for 800 children from 285 local families. The program relies on over 100 volunteers and shoppers, most of whom return year after year. Fundraisers from throughout the community range from dance recitals to high school plays to bartending for charity events that all have donated proceeds. There has even been a Christmas Album recorded by a local business man, and of course, the “Shower for Charity”. The “Shower for Charity” is a long standing tradition in Honesdale in which our local radio personality, Mike Stanton, dressed only in his Christmas boxers showers in the freezing December temperatures in order to raise money for several charities including the Wayne County Children’s Christmas Bureau. These and many other fundraisers, combined with the generosity of the local population are the only reasons the program continues to thrive.
The Bureau is also aided by a unique “Adopt a Family Program”. This program allows local businesses, groups, families, and individuals to be assigned children that they can shop for using their own resources. This program is extremely popular and a wonderful way to maintain the spirit of the season.
The Wayne County Children’s Christmas Bureau is a locally funded, independent 501c3 charity that is governed by a Board of Directors with strong ties to the Wayne County Department of Human Services. This unique cooperation enables the program to serve the maximum amount of local residents in the most effective manner. The combination of these entities along with the extraordinary support of the local community help the Wayne County Children’s Christmas Bureau meet its mission of “every child receives a gift on Christmas morning”.