Head Start Community Program of Morris County

–  Head Start Community Program of Morris County, Inc., Head Start partner, Dover, NJ

Two children read a book

In a community collaboration spanning more than a decade, our local Head Start program has nurtured altruistic partnerships with businesses, service providers, and nonprofit organizations to create a wonderful tradition of giving for our children and families. Head Start Community Program of Morris County, a thriving nonprofit entering its 50th year as a Head Start grantee, is located in Dover, NJ.

Dover is a vibrant but impoverished Latino neighborhood nestled in the heart of one of the country's most affluent counties. The quality-of-life issues faced by the families we serve—predominantly Hispanic immigrants—are especially complex due to the local high-cost of housing and related services in the immediate area. Our program is able to address many of our families' needs and service gaps through supportive, longstanding community partnerships.

For the families we serve, the December–January holiday season is a time of rich cultural celebrations and family traditions. However, this time of year is often very difficult for the community's neediest and most vulnerable families. The staff of our family and community partnerships department has developed a program to ensure that each child served by our organization is granted a specific wish to commemorate the spirit of the holiday season. Local businesses, corporations, churches, municipalities, school groups, and neighbors are recruited for community engagement by our tireless social services staff. Year after year, our neighbors answer the call, enthusiastically providing the children and families with a wealth of gifts, food and clothing for the winter holiday season.

This past December, Head Start Community Program of Morris County's Adopt-a-Family initiative brought joy to 72 families. Our Social Services staff coordinated the needs of each family, supplementing federal resources with local community donations to make dreams come true. Our neediest families received children's toys, clothing, and household items, in addition to gift cards for supermarkets and department stores. Our dedicated program staff cheerfully hauled and carried mountains of donated items to their destinations. Community and corporate volunteers also pitched in. The entire neighborhood came together to meet the needs of Head Start children and their families. As we celebrate Head Start's 50th anniversary, we are pleased to share the story of our tradition of holiday partnerships that have anchored the community and engaged supporters from the corporate, nonprofit, and public sectors—united as one, to serve the area's most vulnerable children and families.