NEWBURGH - Ed Kennedy, Head Coach of the NFA Varsity Crew Team, dressed as Santa Claus, along with several members of the Crew Team, loaded up his truck and drove around the City of Newburgh on December 24, delivering presents for Families 4 Families. Before that, many members of the crew team came out and wrapped presents.
"The Crew Team is part of this community, and the community is part of the Crew Team," said Coach Kennedy. "We’re not just an athletic team anymore, not after this community came out and donated over $53,000.00 to keep us alive; we are going to work to make this City and Town an even better place than it already is."
Families 4 Families, a group started by Danielle Crinieri over 14 years ago, "adopted" 135 families, chosen by social workers and religious organizations, in the City of Newburgh and secured donations from Bishop Dunn families, the Marine Corp Reserve’s Toys for Tots, businesses like Stanley Marks & Co., LLP, Waters Edge Salon & Spa, and others, and countless individuals to fill the "wish list" of all 135 families.
"This started with one family that we adopted from the Broadway School about 14 years ago," said Crinieri. "Now we are up to 135 families, there has been such an outpouring of support. This is 100% volunteer driven, I am so lucky and blessed to have the support of my school, Bishop Dunn Memorial School, and the countless people who have helped the community over the years. USMC Cpl. Shane Bailey was a my ‘toy connection’, I can’t thank Toys for Tots enough. No matter what the economy has been, people here still come out and donate what they can, whether it’s time, money or merchandise. We wrapped and delivered thousands of presents, it doesn’t just take a village, this takes a small army, an army of caring, loving people, and that’s what we have here in Newburgh."
Coach Kennedy, who has been a physical education teacher for 33 years, 26 of which have been in Newburgh, said he saw several students while delivering. "I saw about 30 students, either past or present." They were even some leftover presents, and Coach Kennedy and the Crew Team went out into the streets and gave them to the dozens of kids who ran up to his truck, and adults too.
"Thank you, thank you," said Zoraida Rosario, as the rowers handed her wrapped gift after gift, "my husband just died and I have been so sad, I had nothing to give the children. This is a Christmas miracle!"
Coach Kennedy did have one special request for next year, from the youngest member of the Bilyou Family, "Santa, next year don’t shave your beard, and don’t dye your hair, leave it white!" Said Coach Kennedy, "OK, next year Santa will be back with his white beard."