Bringing holiday cheer to St. Mary’s Church

NUT-12-17 final santas helpers-C
Santa and his elves sit for a portrait. Top row, from left, are Lisa DiPalo, Tonilyn Carsillo, Rosalie Balkin and Debbie Goldy; in the middle is Santa Claus, aka Louis Pastena, and Tammi Trible; on the floor, from left, are Louie Pastena III, Ashley Trible and Nicholas Morgan.

NUTLEY, NJ — In a season when many feel it’s important to give, one local photography shop set up its own nonprofit workshop to collect gifts and nonperishable foods for a most worthy community spot: St. Mary’s Church.
On an unseasonably warm Saturday, Dec. 5, elves and other members of Santa Claus’ entourage joined forces at Nutley’s Photo Arts Productions to help those in need via St. Mary’s.

The church, along with its traditional Mass and other events, offers religious education and a food pantry. This year, the church is again collecting toys for children, many of whom would not have any presents under their tree if not for the support and donations of the community.

Tammi Trible and Alexander Wenkel of Photo Arts Production run an annual holiday photo event to raise money for a worthy cause, and this year they decided to help out St. Mary’s.

The photo company was well staffed with volunteers for the event; one young elf named Nicholas immediately greeted me with a big smile and showed me inside when I arrived. Families with small children were waiting to get their photos taken, along with several dogs, all for a low price and a chance to help the cause.

This year, a mini-Christmas tree was set up in the waiting area, complete with wrapped gifts earmarked for children. And, waiting toddlers were so eager to play with the unwrapped toys placed there to amuse them, that they did not even stop to take off their coats. But the big star, as always, was Santa Claus, who sported a magnificent natural beard and a jolly belly laugh.

There were tiny dogs and dogs so big they towered over this reporter; infants; toddlers and older kids, which all made for a raucous but cheerful crowd.

Watching all the pets and children pose with Santa was an eye-opener, since small children and dogs are not known to pay attention and sit still — ever — for photographs. But the dynamic duo of Tammi and Alexander was ready to jump up and down, offer big smiles, and ring bells in order to grab that perfect open-eyed pose from all in each group.

With gifts of toys piling up and a crowd inside the upbeat photo shop, this event was a fantastic holiday success once again.
As Trible noted the following day, the event, “raised $700 for Saint Mary’s Church giving tree! And people generously donated so many toys and food for the pantry. This was a great success! I’m so happy we were able to give to children and families in our community.”

To donate a toy or money to families and children in need this holiday season, visit St. Mary’s located at 17 Monsignor Owens Place, Nutley.