Here comes the Gingerbread Express!

Through your generosity, the NEARI Children's Fund does more than provide necessities for our neediest students on a day-to-day basis. It spreads holiday magic in the form of giant gift bags and boxes, each designed to make the happiest of holidays come true.

For more than 30 years, the Children's Fund Gingerbread Express has provided members and friends a way to ensure that no student feels the stigma of a bleak, gift-less holiday season.

Coordinator Val Staples works with teachers and other school personnel to develop a list of students whose families need assistance. Each of the students designs a gingerbread cookie cutout listing information about his/her clothing needs and gift wishes. The cutouts are then distributed anonymously to donors willing to fill the requests.

The D'Abate School in Providence is adopted in its entirety, since all students there are eligible for assistance. The Children's Fund brings a truckload of gifts - personalized for each child - and a couple of dozen volunteers to help with the distribution. The students' favorite guests are costumed gingerbread cookies, who dole out hugs along with snacks and candy canes.

Overall, this program has embraced thousands of needy children. In many instances, the gifts from the Gingerbread Express have been the only gifts the child has received. What a great way to feel the magic of the season!

Donor sign-up begins every fall, and wrapped gifts are delivered to NEARI by early December. Email to volunteer to be a donor or to nominate a child (members only). Please help us give our needy students a holiday they will always remember.

2021 Gingerbread Express is happening!

The Gingerbread Express is back and we need YOU to get in the spirit of giving! We were so sad to cancel Gingerbread due to COVID last year. This year, it will look different from years past, but the same feeling of joy and giving is guaranteed!

There are public school students and families who are still struggling, now more than ever. Help us brighten a child's holiday and sponsor a student this season. Contact NEARI Children's Fund Coordinator Val Staples ( and say YES! I want to sponsor a child and fill their holiday with gifts of clothing, winter gear, toys, and joy!

A member says "thank you"

Children's Fund Coordinator Val Staples recently received this letter from a member in Scituate:

Hello Valerie!

I would like to receive a gingerbread for a child! If you could please guide me in the process I would greatly appreciate it. This will be my first time donating, but I am not new to the Gingerbread Express.

I grew up in Olneyville and attended William D'Abate Elementary school. I can not tell you enough how much the Gingerbread Express truly made a difference in my childhood. I am a child of immigrants and an immigrant myself, so we did not have many family or friends living in the country, let alone the state. My favorite childhood memories of Christmas came from the Gingerbread Express.

I was also wondering if there is any way to volunteer the day of, handing out gifts? Or even in the days prior to the gift giving. I can provide a background check, or anything needed if the opportunity arises.


Other Materials of Interest

Local Gingerbread Express projects

Several NEARI locals have organized their own gift-giving programs for the students within their home district. Ask your local president or building representative if there is one in your school or district.

Access Your Member Benefits

Use the number on your membership card as your login for the Access Member Benefits program.

National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI)

99 Bald Hill Road
Cranston, RI 02920-2631

P: 401-463-9630
F: 401-463-5337

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