How One Man Dons a Helper Hat for Kids

Every December, the white door of Ridgewood resident Jim Gibney’s garage opens to reveal a treasure trove: over 200 donated gifts, wrapped and tied with bows, packed in bags, ready to bring joy to children with special needs.

You can call Jim the “Chief Elf” for Youth Consultation Service (YCS), just one of the ELEVEN charities that the Greater Newark Holiday Fund supports.

Since 2012, Jim and his wife Cheryl have participated in the annual YCS gift drive. They enlist scores of friends and relatives to donate toys, books, and games for the children of YCS.

How Jim’s YCS Involvement Began

Jim became involved with YCS at a charity dance at In the Spotlight at Waldwick, in which his children danced. He started off as a mentor at the YCS-affiliated Holley House in Hackensack. 

When he heard about the gift drive initiative, he immediately knew it was his calling.

He saw YCS kids as no different than his own, only that they had “been thrown a curveball that’s a little hard to hit.” And he wanted to help them.

He began cold-emailing anybody that he knew in any capacity for gifts and donations. Classmates from elementary school and middle school, remote Facebook friends – nobody was off-limits. He even enlisted his boss!

And each year, the number of gifts multiply.

They overflow from Jim’s garage into his kitchen and dining room, snaking through the hallways. Every gift is tagged with a child’s name who the donor has previously met. 

The gifts are then transported to the YCS facility and personally delivered to the children.

The Motivation for Donating Time and Resources

To know that what he is doing goes directly towards the happiness of a child is what drives Jim. “Charity is local, that’s what’s so special about it,” he says.

No matter how much you give or when you give, you should be confident that your donation brightens the lives of people in your community. 

That’s where the Greater Newark Holiday Fund comes in.

Your gift is multiplied ELEVEN TIMES to support all the charities that make up the Holiday Fund alliance. 

Somewhere in New Jersey, there’s a child, adult, parent, or senior who has a reason to smile all because of your donation.

There aren’t any qualifications to become a helper like Jim. You just need compassion for the people around you.

With just a couple clicks you can partner with the Holiday Fund by donating to support communities in New Jersey. 

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