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Christmas Friends kicks off 28th year


Christmas Friends Inc. this week kicked off its 28th year helping the less fortunate of Middlesex County, and Santa’s helpers will have to work quickly in 2013 to meet an earlier than usual deadline. This year 300 people will be served by Christmas Friends Inc. The gifts this year will be delivered on Saturday, December 14.

That gives volunteers just four weeks to buy, wrap, sort and deliver thousands of gifts.

Monetary donations are needed and volunteer shoppers are needed. If you can help and have not already been contacted, please call the Southside Sentinel at 758-2328 and leave your name and address. The shopping packets will be issued prior to Thanksgiving.

Wrapping and delivery crews and other volunteers will soon join the effort. Wrapping sessions at the Sentinel will be on December 7 and 8.

Since its creation in 1986, a key 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 gathered at the Sentinel office in Urbanna for wrapping and delivery.

The fund-raising goal for Christmas Friends this year is $25,000. Last year, the community responded generously and donated $24,813.

In 2012, Christmas Friends helped  301 residents (211 children and 90 elderly or disabled adults) of Middlesex County, said Christmas Friends secretary and shopping director Bettie Lee Gaskins. Over $29,000 was spent on the gifts.

Gift boxes 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 Saturday, December 14, please call 758-2328. Gift boxes can be left at the Sentinel back door. Rolls of wrapping paper (ribbons not needed) are also welcomed.

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 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 and delivery bags are all donated. 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.

Donations as of November 14 are as follows:
Cindy Lollar, $200.
Jerry and Judy Whidby, $200.
In memory of Shirley Major, the best clown in the parade, The Haleys, $50.
In honor of grandparents Dick and Helen Haley with love, Rob and Shannon, $50.
Anonymous, $50.

Total this week: $550.
Total to date: $550.

posted 11.13.2013

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