Helping Families Through Holiday Spirit

Avon resident Dana Misorski and her husband David have raised more than $30,000 for The Village’s Holiday Giving Tree program, an initiative that helps provide gift cards for families in need to purchase toys, food and other necessities during the holiday season.

Avon resident Dana Misorski and her husband David have raised more than $30,000 for The Village’s Holiday Giving Tree program, an initiative that helps provide gift cards for families in need to purchase toys, food and other necessities during the holiday season.

An avid fan of the holidays, Misorski gives back to help ensure all children are able to experience “that time of year where magic should exist.”

“The holidays are so meaningful to a lot of people, and they can be challenging for many others, too,” Misorski said. “If there’s something I can do to help, or ease a burden for families in any way, I know that I need to try.”

When she first connected to the Village in 2015, Misorski set a goal of raising $250 and reached out to some friends to contribute. Within a few hours, she had already raised $1,500. Immediately, she knew there was potential to do even more.

With support from her husband and seven-year-old daughter Lane, Misorski’s efforts have snowballed through the years. Her annual contributions have also increased. In 2020, she raised more than $7,000 to provide gift cards for families. This year, her goal extended to $8,000, which she surpassed by raising more than $9,000.

“I’m always in awe of the support we receive,” she said. “It’s not just about helping families provide toys and food—though that’s of course a big part—but it’s also about the feeling…it’s about knowing there’s somebody out there who cares enough to try and help.”

Her inspiration to give comes from the knowledge that the holidays can be a stressful time for families, both financially and emotionally. Looking back, Misorski remembers her mother, a single mom, struggle to provide gifts for her children on Christmas and can now empathize with the pressure she must have felt to make the holidays special. It’s the same struggle for which she hopes to provide some relief.

Misorski emanates holiday spirit, earning her the title “Mrs. Christmas” around The Village. Her efforts have brought in support from her friends and community, from acquaintances, and even from strangers who witness her in action. She’s also inspired local schools and businesses to offer help, including the Goddard School in Farmington, that collected nearly $1,000 worth of gift cards this year.

Because of the pandemic, the Holiday Giving Tree shifted in 2020 from collecting toys to providing gift cards for families to select their own toys. The shift, despite being made during a difficult year, helped empower families in the process. Many shared that it gave them a sense of dignity.

“I think the shift that The Village has made is really inspiring,” Misorski said. “I love that folks have the ability to go out and purchase gifts themselves.”

Prior to this shift, when Misorski was still purchasing toys for Village families, she and her husband connected with a teen employee at a local toy store as they were loading hundreds of toys into their car. When the employee learned that the toys were for The Village, he shared that he was a “child of The Village,” where he had received support throughout his childhood.

“That young man has stayed in my heart for years,” Misorski said. “I take a lot of comfort in the fact that he spoke so highly of The Village. We live on that inspiration year after year.”

Through her efforts, Misorski hopes to inspire others to give back in some way, and help them realize how their support, no matter its size, can make an impact.

“Overall, I want to spread as much awareness as possible,” Misorski said. “At the end of the day, all you can do is put good out into the world and hope that people become inspired by it and want to do more.”

Click here to watch Dana Misorski on Lunch With The Village discuss the importance of supporting families in need, especially around the holiday season.

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