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Christmas Friends begins 24th year

imageChristmas Friends Inc. has kicked off its 24th year helping the less fortunate of Middlesex County, and an army of volunteers is preparing for the new season. 

Volunteer shoppers are already on the job and monetary donations have begun to arrive. Wrapping and delivery crews and other volunteers will soon join the effort.

Since its creation in 1986, a key ingredient to the success of Christmas Friends has been its partnership with the Middlesex County Department of Social Services, which carefully screens all applicants for eligibility. Applicants must meet strict income guidelines.

Once applicants are approved, the gift-giving program begins a process that’s almost like a pre-Christmas visit with Santa. Eligible families submit a “wish list” of clothing (including sizes and colors desired), toys and other needs; a volunteer shopper is assigned and issued donated funds; and the purchased gifts are assembled at the Southside Sentinel office in Urbanna for wrapping and delivery. 

The fund-raising goal for Christmas Friends this year is $25,000, the same as last year.

The community responded generously and donated $32,939.82 last year, which has enabled Christmas Friends to increase the amount allotted for gifts this year an average 15% per recipient.

Last year, Christmas Friends helped 280 low-income and elderly residents of Middlesex County, said Christmas Friends secretary and shopping director Bettie Lee Gaskins. She is expecting a similar number of applicants this year.

Gift boxes and wrapping paper are always needed and delivery vans and drivers will soon be assigned. If you have a van and are willing to remove its back seats and be the driver for one of 10 delivery teams on December 19, please call 758-2328. Gift boxes can be left at the Sentinel back door.

So far, enough shoppers have volunteered and the wrapping room is fully staffed for the first wrapping session on December 5. Watch this space for future volunteer opportunities. For more information, call Geanie Longest at the Southside Sentinel at 758-2328 or email her at .

All funds donated to Christmas Friends go directly to help the needy children and disabled or low-income elderly of Middlesex. All workers are volunteers and there are no administrative fees. Supplies such as boxes, wrapping paper, tape, copying paper, envelopes and delivery bags are all donated and volunteers supply storage space, vans and fuel to assist with the big delivery job.

Christmas Friends is a 501(c)(3) organization. Tax-deductible donations may be made payable to Christmas Friends Inc., c/o Southside Sentinel, P.O. Box 549, Urbanna, VA 23175. 

Contributors will be recognized as Christmas Friends and their donations will be listed in the Sentinel. Contributors who wish to remain anonymous should request that their donations be listed as such. Memorial contributions will also be acknowledged.

Recent Christmas Friends contributors include: 

  • Virginia Conference United Methodist Women, $200.
  • Disciple Women of Philippi Christian Church, $500.
  • Janet S. Friend, $100.
  • “In memory of family,” $200.
  • Middlesex Deputies Softball Game, $280.
  • Jerry and Judy Whidby, $100.
  • In memory of Gilbert and Helen Johnson and John and Sallie Brooke by Ellen and Webster, $40.
  • In memory of Cody Carlton by Jeffrey and Barbara Shaw, $250.
  • Anonymous, $50.

Total received $1,720.00

posted 11.18.2009

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