PLATTSBURGH — It may be snowy and cold outside, but hearts in North Country communities are warm with generosity.
Several organizations work year round to serve the needs of people who fall on hard times. Some get busy during the holiday season to raise funds that will not only supply food and gifts for Christmas but help the needy all year round.
One of the busiest charities is the Salvation Army. Through its Red Kettle Campaign, bell ringers beckon passers-by to drop a little money in to help with expenses to serve local people.
This year’s fundraising is right on track, according to Envoy Frank Smith, who is the commander at the Plattsburgh site.
“We lost a week this year (getting out with the kettles) because Thanksgiving was late in the month,” he told the Press-Republican.
“But we are moving along pretty smoothly. This is a very giving community.”
BELL RINGERS NEEDED
Smith said proceeds are about one-third of the goal to cover Christmas dinner for anyone who needs it, along with a soup kitchen that runs three times a week all year.
“We also provide clothing vouchers through our thrift store,” he added. “People run into all types of emergencies, and we are here to help the needy.”
Although it has become necessary to have paid bell ringers, there are still groups, such as Rotary and Kiwanis, whose members volunteer their time.
Smith said an average of 16 sites are active, and there is always a need for more volunteer bell ringers to keep expenses down.
There haven’t been any surprises, this year, he said.
“But we’re still looking for that gold coin,” he said, referring to last year’s campaign, when a valuable coin was anonymously deposited in a red kettle.
‘LIGHT UP A LIFE’
Clinton and Franklin counties are served by Hospice of the North Country, whose Light Up A Life celebration is part of its annual fundraising.
For a donation of any size, people are invited to write the name of loved ones on stars to hang on Christmas trees at Champlain Centre mall in Plattsburgh.
The trees, set up near Best Buy, will remain until Christmas Eve. There is also a raffle with prizes, such as area rugs from Wendell’s Furniture in Plattsburgh, children’s sleds from Robert’s Sports Center in Malone and an auto-emergency kit donated by Hospice supporters Dan and Karen Hickey of Peru.
“It’s going very well this year,” said Cathlyn Lamitie, director of development and communications. “So far, tree donations are over $2,000.”
Hospice volunteers staff the tables, but for anyone who can’t get to the mall, the organization also mailed letters to residents of both counties.
“The letters contain real-life stories from families we have helped,” Lamitie said. “It is encouraging for others who might be in need of our help to hear how others have been assisted by our program.”
Financial assistance with fundraising comes from a variety of community ties, such as the Clinton County Board of Realtors, which held an auction earlier this year and raised more than $19,000 toward the Light Up A Life campaign.
“The North Country is a very generous place to live,” added Lamitie. “And we thank everyone who donated.”