Dhonna Goodale, an actress and reality star, may live a glamorous life today -- but she remembers what it was like to struggle.
That's why Goodale, a philanthropist who gives back every year and awards scholarships to local teens, is planning, with her family, to take approximately 20 Riverhead kids, who are homeless or in foster care, on a Christmas Eve shopping spree.
The children, she said, will be able to pick out new toys and clothes. The event will take place on Monday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Kmart in Riverhead.
Goodale, who lives in Flanders, will be accompanied by her husband Bobby and sons Jesse, 14, and Jared, 12; Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves and Santa's helpers will also be onhand. Each child will receive three new school outfits, underwear, outerwear, and one or two toys.
"Earlier in life I was that kid -- the one that went without," Goodale said. "And I am living proof that with perseverance you can go from welfare to philanthropy."
Goodale said she hopes to instill the tradition of giving back in her sons. "We were taught to serve others," she said. "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."
The Goodales have long been known in Riverhead for their philanthropy. Each year, Goodale, who has most recently been seen on the TLC reality show special, "Four Houses: Deck the Halls," has taken kids on holiday shopping trips. Through their company, Goodale Productions, the Goodales support safe houses for battered women and their children in memory of Goodale's sister, Tara L. Stevens, who was murdered in 2003 by an abusive husband.
In addition, the Goodales to raise funds to support scholarships for local students. Currently, the Goodales support approximately 80 college students with scholarships, book stipends, and/or clothing grants.
The couple also partners with the Ecumenical Missionaries to provide prenatal care, parenting skills and supplies to unwed mothers and aid to the children of prostitutes.
Goodale, an actress and singer, most recently performed in a jazz play at Birdland in New York City and appeared in a European touring company of "The Wiz." She also appeared in an Off-Broadway production, "Outpost of Progress," and was assistant director and actor in "Clean Sheets Can't Soil."