MANCHESTER, NH – This year’s Miracle on Elm Street is aiming to brighten Christmas morning for 200 kids whose families might otherwise have no other resources for the simple pleasure of a gift under the tree.
Matt Courchesne, Executive Director of HOPE Inc., for Helping Our Pupils Excel, is again partnering with Kristine Hall, Resident Services Director for the Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Last year they provided toys for about 150 kids. This year, there are more than 200 on the list.
“People are trying to bounce back from COVID, and people are reaching deep and trying to help out,” Hall said of the outpouring so far from the community.
The MHRA sends out letters each year to families who they serve letting them know that they can participate. This year they also did an employee appreciation campaign and raised more than $1,100 from MHRA employees to boost the fund.
The annual effort is one way that HOPE Inc. connects with kids who can sometimes feel disconnected or who slip through the cracks, educationally speaking. For more than a decade, Courchesne has built the mentorship program, one student at a time, making sure that there is someone from the organization who can provide what’s needed, whether it’s homework help, academic guidance, employment opportunities, or a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen.
Courchesne had the idea to do a holiday gift drive in 2019, recognizing that the need for kids in the community goes beyond academics. His organization tries to reach kids before they reach a crisis point, providing some stability and guidance along the way. This effort is one way to reinforce to kids that they live in a caring community, Courchesne says.
“And you know where your donation is going, directly to kids in Manchester, letting them know that people care about them. It’s a huge thing that kids need to know, that there are a lot of adults who want to help you succeed,” he says.
“It’s all about relationships, resources and opportunities,” says Courchesne. “For example, this toy drive is happening just because of relationships built in the city.”
One of those relationships includes WMNH 95.3 radio host Peter White, who has become a huge supporter of HOPE Inc. and the annual Miracle on Elm Street toy drive. This year not only has White been pushing for contributions through his morning show that airs Monday through Friday from 7 – 9 a.m., but he has helped organize an all-day radiothon set for Dec. 2. He will broadcast his show live from Bonfire Country Bar and the public is invited to stop by any time between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Afternoon host Matt Connarton will also join the radiothon for the late shift.
Pledges can be made by phone during the morning show all week long, 603-250-6007. Toy donations can be brought to Bonfire Country Bar on Dec. 2. There will be a 50/50 raffle for holiday gift baskets and other donated prizes.