By SUZANNE MOORE
---- — ROUSES POINT — Georgia McChesney couldn’t have been happier on Christmas morning last year.
“I love every (single) one of the presents,” she wrote in a thank-you note to “Santa’s Helpers.”
Those helpers are a few volunteers organized under the name Christmas Magic, who for seven or eight years now have gathered gifts for children in the Rouses Point and Champlain area.
The families of the youngsters qualify for assistance according to Clinton County Christmas Bureau guidelines and have applied for help through the Town of Champlain’s Joint Council on Economic Opportunity Community Outreach Center.
“The Champlain/Rouses Point community finds great pleasure in helping those in their community,” said Cindy Bombardier in a press release.
She organizes Christmas Magic, assisted by Marcy Ziemba; checks donated to the project go to a special fund for the purpose at St. Patrick’s Church in Rouses Point.
“We have organizations, businesses, churches, our local school and individuals that sponsor a child or a family of children,” Bombardier said.
Names of the children in the program are kept confidential, so sponsors receive a code number representing their child, along with age, gender and a wish list.
Monetary donations go for specific gifts the youngsters have asked for but the sponsor may not have been able to include.
Sponsors are asked to do what they can, not buy every item on the list, Bombardier said.
Cash also pays for needed clothing for the children and gift cards and other presents for teens.
“We call ourselves Christmas Magic because our goal is to make a magical Christmas for the children,” Bombardier said.
TOY DRIVE SATURDAY
A toy drive for the group will take the form of a show at the Bowl Mart in Rouses Point, set for 7:30 to midnight Saturday. Local band Overdrive, with lead singers Deane Tremblay, Rick LaVenture and Travis Marchiano, will perform lots of classic rock and some country songs; admission is one new, unwrapped toy or article of clothing for the Christmas Magic project.
Bombardier expressed deep gratitude to the band and Bowl Mart for putting on the event, as well as the many who sponsor the children.
Popular gifts this year, she said, are toys, sleeping bags, place settings, bath towels and bedding featuring the characters Dora, Diago, Elmo, Princess, Tinkerbell, Disney Pixar Cars, Monster High, Transformers, Spiderman and Batman.
“Learning toys and books are often requested,” she said. “And our older (kids) like Legos, craft kits; the teens like gift cards to places like Old Navy, Aeropostale, FYE and Claire’s, along with bath and body products.
Also, Bombardier said, “every child likes to have a new pair of PJs for Christmas Eve and warm insulated mittens or gloves and ski pants to play outside with.”
Christmas Magic’s collection center this year is located in the Champlain strip mall on Route 11, in the storefront between the Post Office and Pizza Plus.
Bombardier started small, with just a few children; the Christmas Bureau took care of the rest of those on the list from Rouses Point and Champlain.
Christmas Magic grew, however.
“I kept getting more and more sponsors and more and more donations,” she said.
Last year, the list totaled 95 children, and as of Thursday, there were more than 100 who will have happier holidays because of local generosity.
“In the last two days, I picked up a last-minute 15 families,” Bombardier said.
Without sponsors, those children’s gifts will be bought with cash donations or come from the toy drive Saturday.
One way or the other, she said, all the kids on the list will have Christmas wishes come true.
Email Suzanne Moore:
firstname.lastname@example.orgHOW TO HELP To donate, send checks made out to: St. Patrick's/Christmas Magic, 138 Lake St., Rouses Point NY 12979.