Nana's Gift was founded by The Sgro Family in 1999, with a mission to provide underserved children in Northern New Jersey with gifts during the holiday season. In our first year we provided gifts for a dozen children. Since then we have expanded our reach to serving thousands of children over two decades.
Just after the turn of the 20th century, 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 late 1920s, 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 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 of all - love, health, family, freedom and a strong sense of community. Sadly, Giuseppe passed away when he was only in his mid-50s. Despite that significant blow, Antonina continued to move forward focusing on her family. Antoninia came to be known as Nanny to her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She always had a smile, a kiss and a hug, for her family and was always ready to join in on the fun. Nanny lived a wonderful life, passing way at the age of 95 on New Year's Day.
Shortly after Nanny's passing, 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, sit down and spend time with him. He said that at the end of their visits Nanny would give him a little gift - a piece of candy, a cookie or a quarter. She obviously made an impression on him as he recalled all of these details so many years later.
This story was told with such appreciation, that we knew we should find a way to continue to spread Nanny's love to children. 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.