Community Teamworks

DECEMBER 2015: Adriana and her family orchestrated a big toy drive for 200 homeless children living in shelters throughout MA. Without the generosity and goodwill of the public, hundreds of children in need throughout Massachusetts wouldn’t have received a gift from Santa this year. But thanks to all who donated, including Adriana’s family, over 200 kids living in homeless and domestic violence shelters at Community Teamworks and beyond recevied a wrapped present under the Christmas tree with their name on it. Thanks to all who helped out and brightened the lives of so many!

Donations restore homeless children’s faith in Saint Nick

by Adriana Cohen | December 17, 2015


There is no greater joy than watching a child’s face light up with delight as they open a gift on Christmas morning, but for families living in homeless shelters such as Milly’s Place in Lowell, there isn’t extra money for a present under the tree.

Karen Frederick, executive director of the nonprofit Community Teamwork, which runs Milly’s Place, shared a story with me and my children this week that I’ll never forget.

“Last night we were at a holiday dinner for some of our homeless children and families,” Karen said. “I was talking to a little boy who was about 7 years old. He said, ‘I think I believe in Santa, but last year I waited and I waited and I waited … but he never came.’ The boy said, ‘If I had powers I would go up there and I would talk to that guy.’ ”

But that won’t be necessary this year because that little boy will find a gift waiting for him on Christmas morning, and, perhaps, his faith in Santa Claus will be restored.

Along with my daughter, son and one of his friends, I met with Karen and her dedicated staff on Thursday to deliver hundreds of toys, clothing, books and other Christmas presents we’ve been collecting for children living in homeless and domestic violence shelters throughout Massachusetts.

“Thanks to the kindness and generosity of others, 200 children won’t have to wait this year,” Karen told us. “They will have a gift for them under the Christmas tree.”

I held back tears, and felt a swell of gratitude to live in a community where so many fellow Americans care about those less fortunate. When I wrote a column announcing the Christmas toy drive a few weeks ago, I was blown away by how many people stepped up and donated toys, books, clothing, stuffed animals and other wonderful presents. The Boston Herald donated bags of terrific books — classics like “Charlotte’s Web,” “Make Way for Ducklings” and dozens of others for the older kids living in the shelters.

We are very grateful for the outpouring of support from individuals, communities and companies to help bring some holiday joy to more than 200 children currently living in our shelters. Because of Adriana’s family and the support of the Boston Herald, this year’s toy drive reached a record number of people, with donations coming in from all over eastern MA and even Rhode Island to help families in need.

Karen Frederick

Executive Director of Community Teamworks


It’s been such a joy to come home from work over the past month and see bags of Christmas presents left on my front porch with a kind note from so many generous families.

Donations came in from many towns, including Concord, Lowell, Milton, Walpole, Middleboro — and even out of state. Some people dropped off toys directly at Community Teamwork; others ordered online and shipped toys directly to the homeless shelter. A few people sent in money, and the Norwood Montessori School collected five bags of toys. Its students are currently working on 25 to 30 Build-a-Bears as well.

Such an amazing and heartfelt response!

And that’s what Christmas is all about — spreading light and sunshine and friendship to others while making positive childhood memories for so many.