DIX HILLS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island woman is spreading Christmas cheer to underprivileged children.
It’s called “Help Mrs. Claus,” but to the kids involved, she is Mrs. Claus.
It looks like Santa’s workshop has taken over Jennifer Scully’s Dix Hills home. She has been collecting thousands of presents from friends and even strangers for some of the neediest kids in Harlem.
“We have one little boy who is suffering from leukemia and his brother, his older brother, just passed of leukemia. The family is going through a really difficult time,” Scully said.
During Scully’s own difficult time, during the the 2008 recession, she lost almost everything, but decided to focus on others instead of herself.
“I was living with my daughter in a little apartment. I was down to my last $300,” she said. “I decided that the best thing to do was to help someone who was in a worse situation.”
She said she noticed a non-profit child welfare agency called “Harlem Dowling” posting letters from children asking for gifts.
“I’ll never forget it. She was 6 years old and she asked Santa for a Barbie, just a Barbie. That was her whole letter. I said, ‘Oh my gosh, with my $300 I can certainly take care of Barbie,'” Scully said.
It snowballed. Scully said she ended up enlisting the help of loved ones, buying toys for 30 children that year. Since then, they’ve managed to surprise nearly 2,500 kids.
“It’s still boggles my mind to this day the generosity of people,” said Gregory Smith, who works in operations.
Scully said even more overwhelming than a house filled to the brim with gifts is the outpouring of support from hundreds of volunteers.
“A man just showed up at my house this morning to deliver bicycles for me in Far Rockaway. He comes from the Hamptons. He just said, ‘Hey, I heard you need some help,'” Scully said.
Help Mrs. Claus has now turned into a full-blown holiday party for the kids and their families. The expressions on their faces is the only thing Scully wants in return.
That holiday party is in Harlem on Friday and each family gets to takes home a goody bag filled even more, including warm coats and shoes.
To donate to the cause for Mrs. Claus, please click here.