Help Mrs. Claus is a nonprofit that collects donated gifts for children. They go to helping hundreds of children who might not get to enjoy this holiday season. NewsdayTV's Shari Einhorn has more.  

Jennifer Scully held a stack of more than 500 letters to Santa. Her Dix Hills living room now overflowing with toys, clothes and donations, she tried to find the right gifts for each letter.

As she flipped through the letters, one stood out from a boy living in a homeless shelter, being assisted by the Hispanic Counseling Center in Hempstead, who asked for sweats and sneakers for Christmas.

“Dear Santa … My parents abandoned me when I was a year old and my foster parents who raised me passed away. Having to live around people I don’t know is hard, but I found a friend who tries his very best to help me out with food and such,” the letter read. “Some nights that I feel lonely and sad … Thank you, for now I know good people are out there.”

Scully, 50, has become known as Mrs. Claus, helping answer Santa’s letters for hundreds of underprivileged children on Long Island and in New York City. She has an army of “elves” — volunteers who donate toys, clothing and food to children and families who may not otherwise be able to provide for presents during the holiday season.

Scully's Help Mrs. Claus organization is a registered nonprofit, helping more than 500 Long Island children this year, including 300 children from the Hispanic Counseling Center in Hempstead.

“It’s become much bigger than I ever imagined. I’m very grateful and very tired. It’s beautiful, the human spirit is amazing,” Scully said. “People don’t realize the amount of miracles, big and small. Sometimes I can’t find a gift and then it randomly shows up from a different person.”

Scully launched the program 11 years ago in New York City and this is her third year on Long Island. She said she started answering letters from the post office at Penn Station. She said she had just lost her home and only had $38 to her name, but still wanted to help buy a Barbie for a little girl.

She continued the work through the Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children and Family Services until their Christmas letter program ended in 2020.

She revived the program on Long Island posting anonymously at first as “Mrs. Claus,” but then increasing her outreach through a Facebook page and a website, HelpMrsClaus.com.

She said she responded to a request from the Hispanic Counseling Center asking for toy donations. She showed up with carloads of toys and clothing.

Many of the children are recent immigrants or from low-income families who ask for clothing and food.

Scully said she makes sure any child asking for clothes gets about a week’s worth of outfits or new shoes so they have clean clothes and won’t be subject to bullying in schools.

She said she also has 7,000 pounds of beans and rice in her home to feed hungry children along with more than 300 blankets. She makes sure children also get toys, including a 17-year-old brother and sister who wrote to Santa that they never received a present before.

Hispanic Counseling Center chief executive Claudia Boyle in Bethpage on...

Hispanic Counseling Center chief executive Claudia Boyle in Bethpage on Friday. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Children at the counseling center write letters to Santa, coloring and decorating their notes while listing three gift wishes, the Hispanic Counseling Center’s chief executive Claudia Boyle said.

The Mrs. Claus program assists children of all faiths and backgrounds, not just those who celebrate Christmas, Scully said.

“Some kids really have nothing,” Boyle said. “The kids don’t know the difference between want and need. The things they’re asking for are things other kids take for granted. We’re the fortunate people who get to help them.”

Scully said she works with about 2,000 volunteers, including several Girl Scout troops, during the holiday season. She has a meticulous system for pairing gifts to each letter as her home is overrun with gift bags, bicycles and clothing. She is filling a storage container in her driveway to be delivered in time for Christmas. She plans to support 400 additional families in the Bronx with overflow donations.

“I think she’s a godsend and she’s doing God’s work,” Boyle said. “I think it’s a miracle what she does and we found her when we did. I feel blessed to help these kids to have a wonderful Christmas.”

Help Mrs. Claus

What: The Dix Hills nonprofit helps hundreds of children with presents and donations every year

Information: HelpMrsClaus.com

Contact: HelpMrsClaus@Gmail.com

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