Mantel of Giving

As you already know, COVID-19 has impacted every single thing in and about our lives, so it’s not really a huge surprise that Mantel of Giving would also be affected.

For those of you unfamiliar with Mantel of Giving, each year we partner with a school in downtown Newark to bring some holiday cheer to the children there. Each child is asked to put three wishes on an ornament, which is then hung on our mantel in the Narthex, and we ask our congregants to sponsor a child or two and grant one of the wishes along with a book.

This is a really easy way for us to continue the work we do in the inner city. There are some kids in this group who will not have a Christmas or a holiday at all, except for the one we give them.

This year we have to forgo the traditional gift-giving with Santa in lieu of a project just as important.

As I write this, NYC schools have just closed all in-person learning and children are facing a long winter at home, trying to learn with siblings and parents competing for Wi-Fi and space.

The children at The Dr. William H. Horton School have not yet returned to in-person learning and the way things look, they won’t.

After much conversation we discovered that the way we can most help is to donate Bluetooth wireless headphones so that the students can focus a little better. Amazingly, we’ve had a donor, Orphaned Pets, agree to donate the first 200 headphones, which is about the number of kids we usually help in a year (shout out to UUCM member Kathy Szmak for making this happen!).

What we’d invite you to do, is continue tradition and donate a book (or two). We’ve had this suggestion from the guidance counselor:

Why Did The Whole World Stop? Talking With Kids About COVID-19 by Heather Black

The shipping address of the school is:

Chantel Isaacs
Dr. William H. Horton School
291 North 7th Street
Newark, NJ 07107

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. As we approach the holidays things seem chaotic and scary, but this project continues to make me feel grateful to be alive and a part of this congregation.

Kate Conroy

P.S. If you feel compelled, please feel free to follow the link to Orphaned Pets to support that wonderfully generous organization (

P.P.S. Similarly, if you’d like to join Orphaned Pets in donating headphones, here’s the link: You can ship them directly to the school at the above address.

Photos from the Mantel of Giving over the years: