621 happy faces on Christmas and maybe more
This year, 621 children will receive presents from The Santa Claus Fund. That’s a staggering number and it isn’t quite over yet. We still expect a few letters to arrive today that were delayed in transit. If the trucks haven’t left for the distribution sites, we will process and pack more toys. The volunteers will work feverishly to get the boxes sealed and then put on the trucks before they leave.
I didn’t think about this number when we were doing the buying in September. After shrinking our service area two years ago, and topping out at 530 last year, I had no reason to think that number would vary too much, one way or the other. After a modest beginning this season, we started setting a pace of 60 children a day. Something told me then to be prepared for an unusual event.
Well folks, the unusual happened! And I know we are not done yet. We are nearly 100 children over last year. We have already made two reorders for toys. Thank heaven for the toys many of you have sent over recently. It has helped enormously.
This community service project that the Elks and their friends put on each year is a good barometer of how things really are. Never before have we seen so many new families applying to us. You have to figure it takes so much of a family’s income just to put food on the table and gas in the car. Christmas presents for the kids are out of the question this year.
I have read several letters from parents stating they always contributed to the Santa Claus Fund, but never expected to be seeking assistance. There are various reasons, but the lack of a good paying job is number one. Some people have stated they are working two jobs just to put food on the table. These letters are sometimes a desperate cry for help. Sometimes you can sense their embarrassment to be asking for our help.
We are not here to ask why, but to assist. We worry about the children who will miss the joy of Christmas. This project was started with a strong sense of caring by its founders, Ray and Carolyn Greenlaw. We continue to follow the path they established. We don’t always get it right, but for the most part, the Santa Claus Fund provides a safety net for those in need.
Now that I have told you the total is 621, I know some of you want to know the breakdown. Well, we have the boys totaling 325 today, and the girls totaling 296. And we processed 324 letters so far. We hope we can contact the parents this morning because the trucks will have left by 11 a.m.
Donations continue to flow into our mailbox too! And we certainly need the additional help to offset the high demand. I told you we reached our goal of $30,000 last Friday. And that is wonderful. But we are dipping into next year’s funds. We are spending next year’s toy buying dollars just to finish this year with enough toys to fill the demand.
It’s not that I wanted to move the goal line. It is sort of like getting a first down and having it called back because we got a penalty. We reached the goal, but the numbers keep subtracting instead of adding. If you have been standing on the sidelines and thinking about sending us a contribution, there is still time. Our mailbox is going to be open. We will be reporting our progress each day until Dec. 30. As a matter of fact we maintain our mailbox yearround. If you can help, send a tax-deductible donation to the Santa Claus Fund Inc. at P.O. Box 278, Brunswick, ME 04011.
Our contributors today are as follows: The Quansigamog Hand Tub Association, the only active firefighting pumper in Maine. This pumper was made in 1862 and the association is made up of 40 members which has one woman among them. They donated $250. That amount is going to put out some of our fires. Thank you folks.
Barbara and David Raymond donated $ 40; we received a $10 donation from Cormier; $50 from Linda and Winthrop C. Gillis in memory of Robin Hurst; The Hair Salon owned and operated by Carol L. Wutzdorff donated $50; and The Gulf of Maine Books donated $ 30. We received $ 100 from the employees of First Federal Savings. Goodwin’s Chevrolet donated $ 100; Katherine L. Leavitt sent $50 in memory of Katherine M. Leavitt. The Solar-Star Masonic Lodge of Bath donated $1,000. That is a wonderful contribution. This lodge has partnered with the Santa Claus Fund before, too! We appreciate the help this year.
Joanne Falvo sent $ 10. Caryn Couture donated an assortment of toys valued at $30. McGregor Gray Jr. and Barbara H. Gray donated $50 in memory of Joyce Brown. Marge Dulik donated $50 “in memory of my husband, Andy, and our son Mathew.” Moncure & Barnicle, attorneys at law, donated $ 100. Charles J. Finn donated $60 in memory of Pat Finn. Stanley R. Hargraves donated $25 in memory of “Stan and Edna Baker and Clayte and None Johnson and Clayte D. and Mom.” And Sayres & Associates of Bath donated $233.
Thank you to each and every one for your kindness and generosity.
Today’s total is $2,198. Fantastic! Our new total is $32,346. We couldn’t do this without your help. Members of the Greater Bath- Brunswick community have demonstrated their caring nature by opening their wallets and supporting us year after year. You can take pride in yourselves for all that you do.
Once again I have another correction to publish. Burt and Nikki Gilliam donated $160 in memory of their son Craig. Also I have not mentioned Mrs. Rachel Schofield who dropped off an assortment of toys in memory of her husband. Also the family of Dudley and Cora Leavitt donated $160 in loving memory. We apologize to the families for these mistakes. Hey Uncle Buck, are you getting any more calls? Just kidding!
The staff from the Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School donated an assortment of toys and money for our kids. Each week the staff donates money to a local organization through their weekly “jean days” fund. The toys were estimated to be around $ 400 and the donations in cash totaled $ 116. Karen Sewall has spearheaded the toy collection for the Santa Claus Fund each year at the school. We wish to thank Karen and the staff at the school for their support.
Christmas is just six days from now! It doesn’t seem possible, does it? Time has gone by so fast this year. With our work almost done, we can now take a little down time to reflect on what has transpired. I will continue this thought tomorrow. Stay well.