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Ali Simon with son Wylie, 4, and Piper, 2, wrap gifts at Congregation Shomrei Emunah on Sunday, Nov. 18.
ALLISON TASK/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

By ALLISON TASK
For Montclair Local

There’s nothing like the personal touch, when it comes to giving gifts.

At Shomrei Emunah, that personal touch was added in a gift-wrapping event on Sunday, Nov. 18.

Members of the preschool, congregation and community brought in new, unopened gifts that they wrapped and decorated. The gifts were to be given away to someone in need at the Orange/East Orange Community Development Corporation.

Shomrei preschool mom Alison Winninger chose that organization.

For the event, Shomrei’s recreation room had been transformed into a wrap room. New, unwrapped gifts were taken to the wrap line, where senior experts with decades of experience (grandparents) were sharing the finer points of wrap technique with new parents. Once wrapped,  children and parents could take the gifts to tables with cards, markers and bows to complete the gift personalization. Young children, from those who were just starting to toddle to their older siblings who could (almost) write their names piled onto their parents laps, eager to contribute that personal touch.

The event itself was the brainchild of two mothers at Shomrei Preschool, Jill Fox and Erica Klinkowize. The goal was to create a preschool group for Tikkun Olam, a Hebrew term that means “repairing the world.”  

“Prior to having my child, I spent much of my free time volunteering,” Klinkowize said. “Once I had Ayla, it became very difficult to find the time to work outside of the home, have a marriage, and raise my child, while also volunteering my time. Now that my daughter is almost four and can participate herself, not only can I bring this part of my life back, I can also share it with her.”

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The event was designed so that children of all ages could participate. While adults wrapped, children were invited to make cards, and select bows and gift wrap. There were no age limitations — if you were old enough to point and smile, you could help prepare a gift to give.

“It is important to my husband and me to teach the children about the importance of giving to others, and we felt this was a great way to reinforce these charitable values around the holidays.” said event attendee Ali Simon. “We regularly donate toys and clothes that we no longer use, but this was much more hands-on for the kids, and it felt more personal and special.”

And for the kids, it was something educational. Four-year-old Wylie Symon’s family parked near the former Red Cross parking lot. He said, “It’s funny that we parked by the Red Cross because we’re helping the children and the Red Cross helps people too!”
The observant four-year old is not only participating in giving, he’s also aligning himself with others who give.

“It made me nostalgic for when I was a child and got to wrap gifts,” said Fox. “I am hopeful that the girls would have similar memories, and that those memories will be tied to memories of Tikkun Olam and giving back to our community.”

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Wrapped gifts are ready to go. Congregation Shomrei Emunah decorates gifts for the needy.
ALLISON TASK/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL