For nearly 15 years each holiday season, U.S. travelers have embarked on the trip of a lifetime to a remote village in the East African nation of Uganda, on a volunteer visit led by New Jersey-based nonprofit Sylvia’s Children (www.sylviaschildren.org).

Their mission: to help bring Christmas cheer to more than 1,000 Ugandan children attending the Mbiriizi Advanced Primary and Day Care School, many of whom are orphans. At the end of the trip, however, not only are the children filled with the Christmas spirit but the travelers as well. A traveler from last year’s Christmas trip said, “Thank you, Sylvia, for this wonderful gift.  Christmas will never be the same after this experience.”

Sylvia’s Children will once again be embarking on this life-changing trip this fall, and dates have now been announced: November 9-21.

The organization, started by businesswoman and philanthropist Sylvia Allen, is inviting those interested in joining this year’s trip to now sign up while spaces last. Each year’s trip, which includes a special Christmas feast and holiday party, fills up quickly.  Applications are being accepted now by e-mailing Sylvia at sylvia@sylviaschildren.org or giving her a call at 732-946-2711.

During each trip, every kid is given their own personalized goodies bag, as well as a brand new shirt for each boy, and a dress for every girl. The teachers and staff go “shopping” with over 1,000 items of jewelry that have been donated to the organization. The trip ends with a safari adventure at Mweya Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda.

Sylvia’s Children’s mission, since its start, has been to improve the lives of the children as well as helping the school to create a self-sustainable model that can then be shared with schools in surrounding villages. It currently supports all 1,000+ children at the school as well as the 150 children in secondary school and the 50 in college/technical schools.

The organization’s determination and support has led to the creation of a 6,000-square-foot medical clinic, a pig farm with 42 pigs, a chicken coop with 8,000 chickens, a fresh well, new classrooms and housing for teachers and orphans, a playground, a sewing facility, 500,000 coffee tree seedlings, a corn milling building, a kitchen, a fully-stocked library and more. Allen has also succeeded in gaining annual sponsorship for some of the orphans, and she has raised over one million dollars, all of which has gone directly to the school, as she covers all administrative expenses herself.

The all-inclusive cost to join this unforgettable trip is $3,695, which includes VISA, airfare, lodging, meals and ground transportation to and from the airport and beyond. The only extra money the travelers need is for their own personal shopping (such as a drum!).  There is no charge for the unbelievable joy travelers will experience by sharing Christmas with these beautiful children.

Those interested in joining the trip can contact Sylvia Allen directly at sylvia@sylviaschildren.org or call 732-946-2711