November 7, 2018

Human Services Commission Encourages Residents to Donate to Holiday Gift Drive

To the Editor:

Princeton is a privileged community, both culturally and economically, but poverty nonetheless touches the lives of some of the children and families among us. About one in 10 children in our community qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school, an indicator of economic insecurity. Coupled with the high cost of living in the area, the holidays can be particularly trying for parents who struggle to make ends meet. 

As the holiday season approaches, we urge Princeton residents to consider participating in Princeton Human Services’ 20th Annual Holiday Gift Drive to help make the holidays a memorable one for these youngsters.   Princeton’s gift drive is unique in that residents can respond directly to the holiday wish-lists of individual children and thus give a helping hand to their parents, who would otherwise be unable to meet their desires. The drive offers an excellent opportunity for individuals, families and businesses to share in the spirit of the holiday in this season of giving – and can go a long way in making the holidays more joyous for the families among us who are in precarious economic circumstances. 

It’s easy to participate in the gift drive:  simply sign up online at, by November 30.  You may also contact the Department of Human Services directly, at (609) 688-2055, or the Department’s director, Melissa Urias via email,  You will be matched with a particular child’s holiday wish list and can bring your gifts to the Human Services office in the municipal building at 1 Monument Drive.  Please also encourage community residents in need of a helping hand during the holidays to contact our office:  children’s gift requests are due November 16.  Staff are fluent in Spanish as well as English.

The mission of Princeton’s Human Services department is to improve the quality of life of individuals in our community who are vulnerable, economically disadvantaged, or otherwise in need.  To meet these needs, the department’s small staff of two collaborates with local and regional organizations to address food insecurity, housing instability, and access to needed services, as well as providing short term emergency financial assistance.  Throughout the year, the department sponsors community activities designed to make Princeton an inclusive and welcoming community, such as Welcoming Week, a Backpack and School Supplies Drive, and Summer Youth Employment opportunities.  Human services staff were also instrumental in coordinating relocation and supports for community members affected by recent fires in our community.

We are excited to support the work of Human Services staff in this year’s Holiday Gift Drive, which seems more pressing than ever before.  We hope you will join us in enriching the holidays for Princeton’s neediest children.  We also invite you to visit our website for more information about the Human Services department’s activities and services.

Thank you for your attention and generosity!

Janet Estes, Larry Spruill, Ericka Deglau, and Ross Wishnick, Chair,

Princeton Human Services Commission