by Danielle Golden Giglio
Anyone that participates in any way with the Kris Kringle Fund very quickly feels the true spirit of Christmas. The weeks and months of fundraising, organizing and planning come together on Kris Kringle Night that happens the second Wednesday of December for the past 15 years.
But this holiday tradition goes back even further when Frank Mills of Blue Point and his family started it late one rainy Christmas Eve night 30 years ago. On that night Frank’s daughter and nephew told the family about a kid in school who was alone on Christmas Eve because his single mom was working just provide the basics.
Right then the family pooled whatever cash they had on them and put it in the boy’s mailbox, rang the bell and ran off into the night. After that first year Frank’s family would find someone deserving of a little Christmas help. When Frank went into business with Mark Miller of Bayport at Harbor Crab this Kris Kringle movement grew as restaurant staff and customers got involved.
How does Kris Kringle differ from the many other holiday fundraisers and events happening this time of year? First off 100% that is donated goes directly to those in our community. The buses, tents, etc. used that night are donated by local businesses. The Kris Kringle committee does their research to make sure the people they are helping are truly in need – they cannot help those with addiction issues or are chronically poor. Kris Kringle chooses people that are doing the right thing in life but have fallen on a rough patch.
The Kris Kringle magic happens when a family thinks they are getting a few Christmas gift and 100 people show up on their front lawn singing Christmas carols along with a big check for the issues they are facing – money for a car repair to get to work, help with a much needed medial issue or to pay heating bill for winter while out of work recovering from an injury.
Frank said, “The Kris Kringle spirit is infectious and goes on and on.” He spoke about often after someone gets back on their feet from Kris Kringle they come the help the next year. His favorite story is when the mother of someone that received Kris Kringle came to the restaurant the following day and started to wash the dishes in the kitchen. This woman was so touched how they helped her family she wanted to work the money off. Of course they sent her home to be with her family and asked her join them next Christmas.
Rev. Kevin Smith of Our Lady of the Snow Church in Blue Point was involved in the first Kris Kringle at Harbor Crab when he was at St. Francis de Sales Church in Patchogue. He could not believe how everyone just donated money and piled in their cars to go off to pay someone’s mortgage. Soon after Father Kevin was transferred to Nassau County and just came back to the area this summer. “The first person on my door was Mark telling me I am on the Kris Kringle committee again and I am happy to help.”
Mark said, “The stories from Kris Kringle are very heartwarming of people getting back on the path and turning their lives around. This is what fuels Kris Kringle to keep going. You get what you give.”
On Kris Kringle night everyone is welcome to buy a raffle ticket, donate a prize or just come and sing. And Kris Kringle loves when children help out since there is no better life lesson then to see it in action. They also want The Kris Kringle vision for the future is to see it grow into other communities and years from now to turn on the TV to see people around the world Kris Kringling to spread Christmas joy.
The easiest way to donate is online at www.KrisKringleGiving.com