“The Magic Is Not In The Gifts Themselves, But In The Kindness Reflected In Your Gracious Giving.”
The story behind Nana’s Gift
Just after the turn of the 20thcentury, Antonina Del Re was born in L’Aquila, Italy, a small town about an hour east of Rome. In her early twenties, Antonina married Giuseppe Zigrossi, and they ventured across the Atlantic to pursue the American Dream. They arrived in the United States in the early 1930s, did not speak English and had no relatives upon which to rely. Like many immigrants, the Zigrossis struggled to make their way in the New World. But, throughout the hard work and sacrifice, they shared their love with each other and their two children, Pauline and Zeno.
Over time, they built a life to which all immigrants aspire. They weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, but they had the things that mattered most to them – love, family, freedom, and a strong sense of community. Sadly, Giuseppe passed away when he was only in his early 50s. Despite that significant blow, Antonina continued to move forward, focusing on caring for her children and soon to come grandchildren, and eventually a great grandson. Antonina came to be known as Nanny to her loving grandchildren and great grandson. She always had a smile, a kiss and a hug, for her family and was willing to spend time doing anything her grandchildren and great grandson would like to do – no matter how silly. She lived a truly wonderful life, passing away at the age of 95 on New Year’s Day in 1999.
Shortly after Nanny passed away, a gentleman shared a story with our family about how she always made him feel special when he was a child. His grandmother and Nanny were neighbors and friends, so he would see her fairly frequently. He explained that no matter what Nanny was doing, she always would stop and sit down and spend time with him when he would see her or visit her home. The special relationship continued for years, even as he grew into a man. Then he said with a particularly sharp twinkle in his eye, that at the end of each visit, Nanny would give him a little gift – a piece of candy, a cookie or a quarter or dollar if she happened to have something in her wallet. She obviously made quite an impression on him as he recalled all of these details so many years later.
This story was told to us with such appreciation, that we knew at that moment that we should find a way to continue to spread Nanny’s love to children she, unfortunately, is unable to meet, but would have wanted to do so. With that, we started Nana’s Gift in 1999 and our generous supporters have enabled the organization – and Nanny – to continue to share her love with children.