BILLERICA (CBS) – It’s been a challenging time for kids who can’t go to school or see their friends because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now a group of local women is coming together to give them something to smile about.
“Smiles For Miles” is a growing, private Facebook group where families can safely share addresses and give gifts to children.
Kids get an address and then prepare a gift bag for children there with items like toys, coloring books, chalk and bubbles. They add a special message and then anonymously drop them off at the home. Then another child does the same for them.
Four women – three mothers and a kindergarten teacher – came up with the idea for “Smiles For Miles,” which is now running through Tewksbury, Wilmington and Billerica.
Stefania Vozzella, a mother of three, describes it like a game of “ding dong ditch,” except it’s nothing the kids would ever get in trouble for.
“The smiles on their faces are just amazing,” Vozzella told WBZ-TV.
That’s because, when families answer the door they realized they’ve been “smiled.”
“They love to put the gifts together and go to a random house, ring the door bell and we love seeing the kids open the door,” she explained.
“They were so excited, it’s like Christmas all over again, just from a simple gesture,” Breanna Surette, a mother of two, told WBZ. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Judging by the looks on all the kids’ faces, this is taking off with a valuable lesson to be learned along the way.
Kaitlin Dallocco is a kindergarten teacher. She tells WBZ-TV that life has been different without seeing her kids. In the gifts she’s been putting together, she has included work sheets and other educational tools.
She’s finding comfort in the fact that many of these kids enjoy putting the gifts together, much more than receiving them.
“That’s what I want to teach them, to be kind and caring and then this is happening so it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is actually something good in the world,’” Dallocco explained.
So far the group has nearly 400 members in the last 40 days.