A group of princesses are coming together, with plans to treat their community like royalty - just in time for the holidays.
Princess Inc., the year-old organization that serves young women of Atlantic City and Pleasantville by promoting healthy self-esteem, is helping to bring joy to their local communities and beyond through its one-day, two-hour "Give Something That Means Something" holiday drive.
For the second year, the group will participate in Holiday Mail for Heroes, said Indra Lyn Owens, owner and CEO of Princess Inc. The girls and community are encouraged to write letters of encouragement and draw uplifting pictures to be sent to men and women fighting overseas.
But for the first time, they are asking the surrounding community to help them collect toys, new or gently used clothes, and books to donate to children in the area Nov. 15. Those who chose to give will be entered into a drawing for a prize, the co-founder said.
"We want them to take social responsibility," Owens said of the group. "Many of the girls have no extracurricular activities. Life has to be more than going to school and coming home."
Princess Inc. strives to offer its members opportunities to be actively involved in community service, Owens said.
The group of about 30 women and girls, who received their official nonprofit certificate in early October, will drop off donations to the Women's Shelter in Linwood, Reliance Foundation with AHEART in Atlantic City and Sister Jean's Kitchen in Atlantic City.
The group has had a working partnership with Sister Jean's for several months, with plans to visit again Nov. 21, Owens explained.
About once per month, the group lends a helping hand to the facility, which is located in the Victory First Presbyterian Deliverance Church on Pacific Avenue.
"They have done a wonderful job. They serve food. They clean up," said Sister Jean's Kitchen community service coordinator, Edward Miller. "Donations will mean a great deal."
AHEART, a family center that works to support at-risk infants and their caregivers, is always in need of baby items, especially with the holidays approaching and Hurricane Sandy leaving many feeling helpless.
"(Donations) mean everything," said Robbin Bell, the executive director. "Our phones have not stopped with people requesting formula, diapers, infant clothes and coats. We are really short on coats … it means a lot to us."
Due to flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, the donation dropoff location has been moved from the Atlantic City PAL building to Atlantic Cape Community College's cafeteria at the Atlantic City campus. All are encouraged to stop by between 5 and 8 p.m. Nov. 15.
Stations will be set up for people to make holiday greetings, to drop off donations and to pick up raffle tickets.
Princess Inc. members dressed in Santa hats will be there to assist.
Christy Simpson, 20, plans to be one of them. The Atlantic Cape Community College student serves as the group's president.
"Everyone isn't as fortunate as others," Simpson said. "It's important just for people to know that other people care and that there are people that are willing to give."
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