Harlem residents and many beyond the community know Jackie Rowe-Adams for her many joyous, triumphant renditions of the Black national anthem at numerous public events. Countless more know her as a resolute and resourceful activist at the helm of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., a group she co-founded after two of her sons were killed by gun violence—an unimaginable experience.

During this Christmas/Kwanzaa season, Rowe-Adams and her associates turn their attention to providing gifts for the needy, particularly winter clothing for seniors. Last Monday at her headquarters in West Harlem, she stood amid a room full of potentially life-saving items, at the same time welcoming a number of notables to the annual event.

“I have been doing this since 2006,” Rowe-Adams said of the contributions at her disposal. “We all have to find ways to give back to our communities, and this is just one of several ways that our organization, in concert with the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce and some of its most committed members, seek to bring about positive change, especially for the holiday season.”

In the words of Lloyd Williams, president of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, who was joined at the event by three of the chamber officers, Voza Rivers, Willie Walker and Winston Majette, “[Rowe-Adams] could have become the most vicious and bitter person on Earth after her sons were shot and killed. But she took that experience and turned it around and has saved thousands of young people through her ministry at Harlem Mothers and Fathers S.A.V.E.”

The praise was echoed by a coterie of participants, including Michael Sutton, a member of the Chamber of Commerce who recently opened, in Harlem, a branch of his national company, Infrastructure Engineering, headquartered in Chicago, Ill., with regional offices in Nebraska and Indiana. Mr. Sutton and his company made a considerable contribution to support the effort in the name of his late mother, because, he said, he wanted to honor his mother’s memory in a way that would make her most proud. He was accompanied by his wife, and during his remarks, he compared the concept of giving to what happens on an airplane when you are instructed on how to put the oxygen mask on. “First they ask you to make sure your mask is secure before assisting others,” he said. “Well, I have my mask on now in terms of giving, and I feel I can help others. Giving is not about looking for a reward, but it seems each time I give, I get much, much more in return.”

Williams noted that more than 50 giant bags of items—winter clothing, boots, books, etc.—totaling more than 3,500 different things, had been donated. He particularly thanked Macy’s and Harlem Arts Alliance for their roles in making the moment so successful.

The program was graced by the presence of Rep. Charles Rangel, who gave the keynote remarks in support of the effort to assist senior citizens and children. He further commended Rowe-Adams and the work she has been doing on behalf of the community. The Congressman called her one of Harlem’s jewels, who knows all about the value of giving. He said, “She has taken the time to weave all of this together so all of us can feel more secure,” which is something he also said about members of the NYPD.

Among those officers in attendance were Deputy Inspector Michael Davidson, commanding officer, Det. Osvaldo Collado and two police officers from the 32nd Precinct.

Two of the other organizations that were beneficiaries of the holiday donations were Our Children’s Foundation, represented by Willie Hall, and Walker’s Kiddie College, also represented by Walker. Assemblyman Keith Wright was represented by Maurice Cummings and Councilmember Inez Dickens was represented by Troy Outlaw. Both the Assemblyman and the Councilmember extended their good wishes and accolades for the work Rowe-Adams has done over the years.

Rowe-Adams took a moment to offer a special word of appreciation for Councilmember Dickens, who helped facilitate the office space for Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. She also informed the audience that Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. was first supported by Assemblyman Wright and that the Assemblyman actually named the organization.

Williams also acknowledged the presence of the Rev. Ronald Sullivan of Christian Parish for Spiritual Renewal, who closed out the evening with a benediction that again emphasized the importance of giving and a hope they can continue to be blessed to provide for those in need. “Lord, bless this community and help us to keep our hands together so tightly that the bottom of this community will get stronger … so that we can keep our young people and our seniors safe,” he said. “And comfort our mothers and fathers who have lost their children too soon.”

It was a prayer that Rowe-Adams and others in attendance knew well and one that has sustained many. It is a prayer that has provided all with the strength and determination to keep in their hearts the wonderful gift of giving.