500+ smiles! This is what "For the Love of Erika" has accomplished this holiday season. Young children (and young at heart) enjoyed an evening free of worries, as they played, ate, and visited with Santa. For one evening, they didn't have to think about not having a home; instead they watched their children play and slide, and some daring parents chose to slide themselves, thanks to Kevin Lynch and Adrian Manning of Jump On In (in Lowell and Haverhill). Coppola Bus Company, Domino’s Pizza, Market Basket, and Donelan’s supermarkets were very generous with donations, and the North Andover Kohl’s store provided 7 volunteers to help the parties run smoothly and safely.
Once the two holiday parties for 6 homeless shelters were over, deliveries to local hospitals and shelters began. Sick children were provided with a much needed distraction, which hopefully helped them get through their hospital stay. Mothers and fathers were thankful for the smiles that “strangers” could provide for the many children not feeling well this holiday season. Parents at other local shelters were so thankful for the toys that were provided so they could contribute to their child’s Christmas morning.
I have tried to teach my children that there is nothing more “life altering” than knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. Thanks to the wonderful community of Westford, this life lesson has been learned, and along the way more than 500 children and families are smiling this holiday season. In the past 8 years, more than 7,000 children and families have been touched by “For the Love of Erika”.
In addition to the businesses listed above, we would like to thank Sharon Kennelly and the Crisafulli School, Denise Arvidson and the Robinson School, and Susan DuBois and the Nabnasset School. These schools and the wonderful children and families from these schools have been instrumental in the success of “For the Love of Erika”. We would also like to thank the numerous volunteers who helped out with the holiday parties and deliveries. We would also like to thank Crimson Aquatics/Andover and the congregation at St. Constantine and Helen Greek Church in Andover for their continued support. Finally, thank you to all our family and friends that have supported “For the Love of Erika” all these years.