Middlesex Rotary to honor Fred and Bettie Lee Gaskins with Pride of Middlesex award
The Rotary Club of Middlesex County announced this week that Fred and Bettie Lee Gaskins of Urbanna, publishers of the Southside Sentinel for over 50 years and leaders of Christmas Friends Inc. for 31 years, will be recognized with the club’s 2017 Pride of Middlesex award.
The award will be presented during a banquet Saturday, April 8, at the Hartfield Firehouse Pavilion. The social hour will begin at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 6 p.m., and speakers after dinner.
Fred and Bettie Lee came to Middlesex as newlyweds in 1966 and purchased the Southside Sentinel, then an 8-page paper printed on an antique press in Urbanna. They soon adopted modern printing processes, developed what they say is “a dedicated and talented staff,” added new technology when feasible, and continued the paper’s emphasis on strictly local news to create the Sentinel of today.
Over the years the Gaskinses also have been involved in a number of community activities, but from October to December each year Christmas Friends occupies lots of their time. The program provides Christmas gifts for needy children and elderly adults in Middlesex County. Fred is president and Bettie Lee is secretary of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Co-founded in 1986 by the Sentinel and the Middlesex County Department of Social Services, Christmas Friends in recent years has provided gifts for about 300 clients referred by social services each year. Hundreds of donors and volunteers in the community make it possible.
The Gaskinses said they are deeply honored to be selected for the Pride of Middlesex Award and “especially grateful to be considered in the company of many prior recipients who have meant so much to us. We haven’t strayed far from our roots but we can’t imagine living and working in a better place than Middlesex County.”
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