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Christmas Friends shoppers needed

Christmas Friends Wrappers

Christmas Friends Inc. this week kicked off its 27th year helping the less fortunate of Middlesex County, and hundreds of volunteers will pitch in to help complete the mission over the next four weeks.

Monetary donations have begun to arrive and volunteer shoppers will soon be on the job. A complete number of clients to be served is not yet available but more 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.

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 $26,000, the same as last year. The community responded generously and donated $26,540 last year.

In 2011, Christmas Friends helped  325 residents (214 children and 111 senior adults) of Middlesex County, said Christmas Friends secretary and shopping director Bettie Lee Gaskins. Over $30,000 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 15, please call 758-2328. Gift boxes can be left at the Sentinel back door. Thanks to many donations, gift wrapping supplies are sufficient for this year.

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, 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.

posted 11.14.2012

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