January 3, 2013

Holiday Helpers reach out


---- — Editor’s note: Every year, the Press-Republican asks local organizations and businesses to let us know about community-service work they did or donations made during the holidays. Our goal is to let everyone know about the generosity in our region.

Here is what was submitted for 2012:

The Kiwanis Club of Ticonderoga donated $300 to the Tiny Tim Christmas Wish fund again this year. The Tiny Tim fund provides Christmas presents to needy children and families who otherwise might not have a merry holiday season. For 2012, Tiny Tim provided for 200 Ticonderoga-area children, a record number. The Tiny Tim fund has been in operation for 25 years. Managed by Helen Gibbs for many years, this charitable operation is now managed by Nancy Quesnel. Tiny Tim relies on support from community members and organizations to be able to complete its mission of helping children in need.

The Saranac Lake Holiday Helper Program is once again so grateful to the members of the Found Caravan Corvette Club. Organized annually by Joanne and “Beef” Bevilacqua, the program saw people travel from many states to ensure that more than 240 Saranac Lake children had toys, coloring books, crayons, hats and mittens for Christmas. They even took extra care in choosing gifts for a special-needs child, as well as providing her with a personalized “read aloud” book. “Our program would not be able to accommodate the number of children we do without the generous donation of the Found Caravan Corvette Club,” said Patti Ploof from the Holiday Helper Program.

The annual Kiwanis–Ticonderoga Central School holiday party for senior citizens took place on Wednesday, Dec. 5. The seniors were treated to a turkey dinner, entertainment by student musicians and — new in 2012 — a Secret Santa door prize of a crisp $100 bill. Santa Claus himself picked the winning ticket. Pine centerpieces and hand-drawn place mats were provided by elementary students, with the assistance of the Carillon Garden Club. Christmas cookies were also baked by the elementary students and provided to the seniors to take home for the holidays.

The Kiwanis Club of Ticonderoga and Ticonderoga High School students collaborated again this year on the annual Stuff-A-Bus event, to benefit the Ticonderoga Food Pantry. The goal for the Saturday, Dec. 8, event was to fill a full-sized school bus with non-perishable foods to help local families in need. Margaret Beuerlein, the Food Pantry director, said, “This may be the largest food drive we’ve ever seen.” In addition, almost $500 in cash was collected for the Food Bank.

Zachery LaForest, a senior at Saranac Central School, planned and organized a Christmas shoebox project. With the help of fellow students, boxes filled with toys and games were distributed to 25 less-fortunate children. “Zach’s desire to contribute to his community is truly amazing for a young man,” said Clinton County Youth Bureau Supervisor Kim Crockett. LaForest is a member of the Clinton County Youth Board and the Clinton County Youth Court.

The Northeastern Zone of the New York State Retired Teachers Association brought Christmas gifts to their annual holiday luncheon to give to the Clinton County Christmas Bureau and the Essex County Department of Social Services. Through the generosity of these retired North Country teachers, more than 50 presents and cash donations helped to make a brighter Christmas for some local families, according to Nancy L. Olsen and Marilyn Smith, who handle public relations for the association.

Clinton County Sheriff David Favro extended a “sincere heartfelt thank you to the men and women of the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department. Those working in the jail to keep the public secure are not able to be with family on all holidays and special family events. They should be proud of the good work they do all year to provide a safe secure and humane environment in the jail, as well as protecting the public while transporting inmates in public settings,” he said, also noting the hard work of the Patrol Division. He said that on Dec. 15, 11 deputies volunteered to take 12 young children to Target for a “shop with a cop” event. The deputies’ union matched the $600 donation from Target to provide a $90 budget for each child. “The experience was very rewarding for the deputies and even more so for me,” Favro said. “I was incredibly proud to receive the dozens of compliments from members of the community on the professionalism and compassion demonstrated by the deputies. With a smile, I replied that is only a sample of the quality of employees we have at the Sheriff’s Office. On behalf of the wonderful men and women of the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department ... a wish for a safe and prosperous New Year.”

The Saranac High School Key Club, which includes 78 members, collected, assembled and donated 43 Thanksgiving meal baskets to families in Redford, Clayburg, Saranac and Dannemora, as well as to the Saranac JCEO Outreach Program and Saranac United Methodist Church. Each basket included a turkey, potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, fruit and dessert. Members also created and hand delivered 400 Thanksgiving decorations for residents of Meadowbrook Health Care and the Samuel F. Vilas Home in Plattsburgh. Student organizers included Key Club President Miranda Marnes, Vice President Beth Plumadore, Secretary Alexis Bruno, Treasurer Brooke Layhee and Club Editor Nicole Turcotte. The Key Club Adviser is Joan Seidel.

This Christmas season, the Bridge Church in Keeseville, along with many local businesses, provided 19 families from Keeseville, Peru and AuSable Forks with more than 20 baskets of food and toys. “This project started with the vision of a 7-year-old member of our congregation,” said Katherine Santor, associate pastor at the Bridge Church. “Elisha Benway, inspired by the concept of Operation Christmas Child, asked if we could help local families. Many local families are suffering hardship, and our list grew quite rapidly. We planned to assemble 10 baskets. We contacted some of the local businesses and were overwhelmed by their eager and generous response. The contributions of Pepsi-Cola Bottling, Keeseville Pharmacy, Keeseville Dollar General, Rulfs Orchard, Peru Grand Union, Peru Pharmacy, Pasquale’s, Forrence Orchards, Dunkin’ Donuts and Stewart’s Shop of Peru enabled us to more than double our initial goal.  We hope to repeat and expand this project next year.”

The 26th-annual Stewart’s Shops Holiday Match program once again topped the $1 million mark in contributions for local children’s charities. The company announced that Stewart’s customers donated a total $672,000 at the 324 store locations in upstate New York and western Vermont between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Stewart’s Shops is matching that amount, with a total of $1,344,000 to be distributed in March. “These are difficult times for many families, and despite the economic challenges, we are always impressed with the generosity of our customers,” Stewart’s Foundation President Susan Dake said. All the money raised benefits children’s organizations directly within the communities where Stewart’s Shops are located; there are no administrative costs. After this year’s funds are distributed, more than $17 million will have been allocated since the program’s inception in 1986.

Children’s charities can still apply for funding from the Holiday Match Program, with applications available in all Stewart’s Shops or online at Applications must be submitted or postmarked by Jan. 31.