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Delightful Christmas for needy kids

Philanthropist-actress-reality show star Dhonna Goodale helped ensure that homeless and foster children in Riverhead and surrounding areas had a delightful Christmas. The Flanders resident and her family headed up a Christmas Eve shopping excursion to Kmart in Riverhead on Monday, where they outfitted 22 Riverhead-area children from head to toe and purchased toys of their choice.

Goodale, who was recently seen showing off her holiday decorating talents on the TLC reality show special Four Houses: Deck the Halls, has been taking children on holiday shopping sprees and otherwise helping less fortunate young people all of her adult life.

“We were taught to serve others,” said Goodale, who together with her husband Bobby Goodale is passing on the tradition by involving her own sons, Jesse , 14 and Jared, 12 in the holiday gift-giving activities. “Earlier in life I was that kid - the one who went without -- and I am living proof that with perseverance you can go from welfare to philanthropy. The thought behind this activity is that when much is given, much is expected and the reason for the season is that a child was born and died for us.”

Elves and Santa’s helpers assisted the children, and Santa and Mrs. Claus made a special appearance in advance of his big day. The children each received at least two school outfits, underwear and outerwear as well as one or two toys and candy. Their parents were taken food shopping.

In addition to holiday gift-giving, Goodale’s philanthropic works span the gamut. Through its company, Goodale Productions, her family supports safe houses for battered women and their children in memory of her sister, Tara L. Stevens, who was murdered in 2003 by an abusive husband. The Goodales also currently support approximately 80 college students with scholarships, book stipends and/or clothing grants. They also partner with The Ecumenical Missionaries to provide prenatal care, parenting skills and supplies to unwed mothers and aid to the children of prostitutes.

Goodale, an accomplished actress and singer, has recently returned to the stage after taking time off to raise her sons with a recent performance in a jazz play at Birdland in Manhattan, which opened to rave reviews. Earlier, as Donna Harris, she was in the European tour of The Wiz, directed by George Faison, in the role of Dorothy and appeared in the Off-Broadway production Outpost of Progress by Joseph Conrad, and as assistant director and actor in Clean Sheets Can’t Soil by P.J. Gibson.

For more information on Dhonna’s philanthropic work, visit www.goodale-productions.com.

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