To bring a little joy to families in need within the community, the Carpenters Union Training Center in Georgetown is collecting toys, money and gift cards to be distributed to six families of students at the Howard T. Ennis School.
“We do a lot of volunteering,” said Al Brocato, an instructor at the training center. “One of the places we volunteer is [Southern Delaware Therapeutic Riding], which does therapeutic riding.”
It was at the farm that Brocato met a man whose son attended Howard T. Ennis.
“We were thinking of doing something for Christmas. And I thought, ‘Well, maybe we could help the kids at Ennis,” he said. “The parents don’t have hardly anything, usually. Some of them are young, with kids… We try to help them out.”
The Howard T. Ennis School provides educational services to students (preschool through 21 years old) with significant disabilities within the Indian River School District and surrounding districts.
This will be the fourth annual toy drive the Carpenters have organized for the school.
“Last year, we did three families. We probably collected over $800. We were only doing one family, then last year we did three. Now, this year, we’re doing six.
“We give them cash, gift cards, toys, and we’ll give them paper and tape, so they can wrap their own stuff.”
Brocato said he works with the school, whose staff chooses the families that will benefit from the drive. Suggested gifts for this year’s families include educational books, toys with touch and sound, Paw Patrol and Mickey Mouse items, and gift cards.
“We’ll give them gift cards or cash so they can go and buy their own stuff,” he explained. “We’re just trying to get the word out.”
The Carpenters also serve the community in other ways, including cleaning multiple times each year a portion of Route 113 in Georgetown, through the Adopt-a-Highway program, and volunteering at Camp Barnes.
“I always try to get the apprentices involved in something, because community service is one good way I can get these guys out into the community. They do a lot around here, they really do. We like to get out into the community.”
Brocato said he learned to give back from his wife, Rose, who passed away last year from cancer.
“When she was young, the only Christmas she had was when the fire company came around and gave out a stocking with candy in it,” he said. “That was her Christmas. She didn’t get nothing else. She passed away in June 2017 of breast cancer. We were doing this before then. She got me to give at Christmas, because she really liked to support the kids who didn’t have anything. We used to go down to the welfare center, and get the names of families and get them stuff.”
Collection boxes are set up under a Christmas tree in the entryway of the training center in Georgetown. Donations are being accepted until Dec. 19.
“It’s nice to help them out,” said Brocato of the Ennis families. “When you drop them off, people are crying and so thankful.”
The Carpenters Union Training Center is located at 21420 Vaughn Road in Georgetown. Donations may be dropped off between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Those who wish to learn more or need to arrange a pick up may call (302) 856-3000.
By Maria Counts