Holiday Helper needs last minute donations
Marlborough – For the past 21 years, “Holiday Helper” has drawn a parade of volunteers who band together to play Santa’s elves to ensure that the Christmas wish lists of city children come true. The program, which is run by Rosalind Baker, the director of the city’s Human Services Department, is generously supported on an annual basis by local residents and business owners.
Appreciative of the support of the volunteers and the donations, Baker said she is still receiving a steady stream of requests.
“Last year was tough, but this year … Wow, the requests just keep on coming,” Baker said. With needs up signifi- cantly from years past, Baker said that the holidays are such a tough time for people who are either unemployed or underemployed.
“This is a tough year for everyone. Unemployment rates are in the double digits, and many of the people or companies who have donated in the past are not in the position to do so this year,” Baker said.
Looking at the numbers, Peggy Ayers, an aide to Senator Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, said that, to date, they have received requests for holiday assistance from 508 families with an average of three children per family.
“This is a huge community eff ort, I am so thankful for the support from all of the volunteers and everyone who sponsors a child,” Ayers said.
Working in the program for the past six years next to Ayers and Baker, State Representative Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough, said that it is one of her favorite causes and it gives her an opportunity to roll up her sleeves and do true community service.
“Everyone goes through down cycles and needs help,” Gregoire said. “But Christmas is about kids, and kids do not understand economic down times.”
Providing gifts for kids of all ages, some of this year’s hot picks include Moxie Girlz, iPod Shuffles , gif t cards , bikes and everything in between. Regardless of what mom or dad’s bank account looks like, kids are kids, Baker said. They all go to school together and they all want the same things.
Generally Baker said she receives a wish list from parents and then matches the wish list with a sponsor. If the child is not assigned a sponsor, then Holiday Helper will fill the wish list from toys that the city receives from organizations like Toys for Tots.
Looking at the room filled with Toys for Tots donations such as Barbie dolls and racecars, Ayers said that they could not possibly fill the requests without generous donations from local business, residents and churches.
Gregoire, who has helped organize the volunteers, said that this year they have been fortunate for the support of the Fire Department, the Department of Public Works, Senator Eldridge’s Staff and many other volunteers, for the countless hours they have spent shuttling toys to the city to be sorted.
Crystal Henning who has volunteered for the program for years said that although it is a lot of work, it is what the holidays are supposed to be about.
“I love being part of this, I remember when I was a kid, I loved Christmas. … It’s nice to know that I can help create great memories for other children,” Henning said.
For more information on how to sponsor a family, drop off donations or volunteer, contact Baker at (508) 460- 3739 or stop by Room 109 of the Walker Building, 255 Main St., Marlborough.
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