Kids in need get tidal wave of gifts in annual tradition

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — More than 450 children at a Providence school — whose students are considered in need — were presented with a major batch of gifts Wednesday by a state teacher’s union in a tradition now 26 years strong.

The “Gingerbread Express,” engineered by the National Education Association Rhode Island, matches up nearly 1,500 needy students total statewide with members and friends of the union. Like taking a tag from a giving tree, a “gingerbread cookie” lists a few things each child needs, along with a few fun items.

Most of the gifts get to parents and kids by flying under the radar, but at D’Abate School in Providence, a tractor-trailer brought the delivery with fanfare Wednesday.

Gingerbread men and women — human-sized — performed for the students in the reading of a story about the express.

Students make handmade ornaments as a thank-you for volunteers who make the presentations — including Providence Police officers, students from Ponaganset High School and the University of Rhode Island, and this year, Governor Gina Raimondo.

The NEARI credited several donors, including state senators, Coastway Credit Union, Horace Mann Insurance, the Newport Naval Academy Preparatory School, the Neighborhood Health Plan, the International Interior Design Association, and Christopher Regan Insurance.

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