By Neil Schulman
The holiday season has a message. And a new book by area resident Larry Campanella can teach children that message and benefit Toys For Tots at the same time.
Campanella, a retired special education teacher and a singer, routinely uses his works to benefit the needy, especially around the holidays.
Sales from his CDs have gone to hurricane victims, the Salvation Army and other causes. His last book, “Larry’s Healthy 21-Day Food Guide,” raised money for Elijah’s Promise, a soup kitchen in New Brunswick.
His latest work, “Gavin’s Christmas Surprise,” is aimed at children in second or third grades.
The book tells the story of Gavin, a 7-year-old who goes to school in Burlington, Vermont. Normally Christmas is a major celebration in his house, but his father, Mr. Simon, lost his job, and times are tough. Mr. Simon can’t get gifts for his family and seems to have no holiday spirit.
“This year, he didn’t want to join his family in doing anything,” Campanella said.
When Gavin’s best friend Derrick hears this, he asks his family to help out, and share the message of the holiday season with the Simons.
Campanella says that the book has been getting attention. The principal in Champlain Elementary School, Vermont, where the fictional Gavin and Derrick go, has expressed interest in using the book in school.
Proceeds from the book benefit Toys For Tots. The Marine Corps Toys For Tots program collects new unwrapped toys and distributes them to families in need around the holidays. It has been in existence since 1947.