Name: Louise Sullivan
Name of you Non-Profit: The Children’s Collective
Family info: Husband of 39 yrs, 4 children, 2 married, 1 engaged, 2 grandchildren (1 born days just days ago!)
Pets: I have a grand dog...does that count? Ha!
Before this, what was your career?
I was an interest rate swap trader at Salomon Brothers and I’m currently an interior designer.
What are some alternative careers you would have liked to have?
What is The Children's Collective? Holiday Angels?
The Children's Collective is a non-profit organization based in Rye, NY which has been helping children in need for 31 years.
Holiday Angels is one of the 3 main annual drives of the Children’s Collective. We collect gifts for hundreds of children in need that would otherwise go without. We ask our volunteers, donors and the community to sign up to be an Angel. We then ask them to buy a gift for a certain age child and drop it off or they can go on one of the Amazon wish lists and send it directly to the organization.
Why did you start the Children’s Collective?
31 years ago when my oldest two children were three and one years old, I read that there were more homeless children per capita in Westchester County than anywhere else in the country. I couldn’t stand the thought that children living so close to us were homeless. I found some other like-minded moms and we had our first Coat Drive. We then added the Book Drive and Holiday Angels and have been organizing them each year since.
What did you have to do to start?
We found a few shelters that needed our help. Our first was in the old the Howard Johnson's in Elmsford. We then got the word out and asked and begged everyone we knew for coats. It broke my heart to think of children receiving very little or nothing at all at the holidays. I feel every child deserves something new on Christmas morning.
Do you do year long work or is it only during the holiday season?
In the spring we do a Book Drive and a Coat Drive in the fall, which we just finished. We also work on special projects as needs arise.
This past spring we became aware that the St. Ann’s Day Camp in the Bronx only had a few balls and just a small amount of arts and crafts supplies. A member made an amazon wish list for them and the response from our community was overwhelming. Another member organized the Rye Nature Center to bring their mobile educational bus to them once once a week for lessons about their animals.
What have you learned in the process of working on this?
There are so many thoughtful and generous people that want to help others, especially children, in need and are so grateful for the opportunity to do it.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love getting pictures and stories back from the organizations we serve and share them with our amazing volunteers and donors. Last year we were told by a school in the Bronx we gave gifts to that the staff brought the students with the greatest need to choose their gifts first. Although there were 100 toys one little boy asked if he could choose a fluffy blanket. When told he could, he buried his face in it and cried. The school didn’t know he and his mom had been sleeping in their car.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
Not feeling terrible about the children we haven’t helped. We constantly search for organizations that need our help, and it never ceases to amaze me how thoughtful and generous our community is each year. What I like about giving to The Children’s Collective is that every coat, book and toy will be in the hands of a child within a few weeks of it being donated.
How has the virus impacted your work?
In a way it was a blessing. The bad news is that we have more children than ever in need of our help. The good news is that due to all the COVID precautions from last year we created wish lists where donors can choose a toy/gift or coat and have it sent directly to the organizations we serve. It has enabled many more people to give.
What do you think is important for other moms to know?
The best way to teach your children to have empathy is by getting them involved in what you do for others.
Other fun details about you:
I’m one of 8 children. We had our first child in London. I have 30 nieces and nephews and 31 great nieces and nephews.
Want to help out? There are 2 ways to give: 1) You can use one of the Amazon links below to have gifts sent directly to one of the organizations we serve.
PS 78 is an elementary school located in one of the poorest districts in the state. A horrifying amount of the children there are currently living in shelters. They have so many working parents that are agonizing over not being able to afford gifts for their children with just a few weeks to go before Christmas. It is a 20 minute drive from Rye. https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3MZMBDTBVBP4A...
Comprehensive Family Care Center in the Bronx serves over a thousand children in need in the Bronx. https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/386U2QTKT2VB6...
When asked for a shipping address you will see the name of the organization in your addresses.
2) You can buy for children from newborn to 18 years of age and drop off, unwrapped to the Rye UPS Store 222 Purchase St. by December 15th.
We will deliver the gifts you drop off to transitional housing facilities and shelters in the Bronx.
Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be interested in being an Angel or email us ChildrensCollective@gmail.com
Questions? Our email address is ChildrensCollective@gmail.com