LAKE PLACID - The Christmas spirit filled the North Elba Town Hall this past week as less-fortunate families picked up clothing and toys from North Elba Christmas Fund volunteers.
On Monday morning, NECF co-chairs Denice Fredericks, Shannon Porter and Britt Isham were filling clothing bags with snowsuits and boots in the first-floor meeting rooms; the divider was drawn back to create one large room. This year, families had a choice of a snowsuit or boots.
"Normally we would give them snowsuits and snow boots," Porter said. "Unfortunately, sometimes the donations aren't there. We do all this with donations."
Denice Fredericks, right, and Shannon Porter compile boots and snowsuits for local children at the North Elba Town Hall Monday, Dec. 16 for the North Elba Christmas Fund. Toys were set up Tuesday for pickup. Christmas food baskets for about 200 families will be distributed on Saturday.
(Photo by Andy Flynn)
With the clothes packaged on Monday, volunteers spent part of Tuesday laying out the toys donated through the Elfing Tree program at the Palace Theatre.
"All those gifts are brought to us, and we add those to the bag," Porter said. "We give them up to three toys per child."
Families had a three-day window to pick up their packages starting on Tuesday.
"They come in, and they're allowed to 'shop' off the tables," Porter said. "They get all the hats and mittens they would like for free. They get a blanket. They get a sled. Sometimes we get clothing donations, like the Lake Placid Horse Show gives us a lot of shirts.
Once the clothing distribution is complete, it's time for the holiday food baskets, which will be packaged on Friday. Dec. 20 at the town highway garage.
The food will be purchased Friday morning, and the NECF will be getting some much-needed help from the Strack family's Central Garage.
"Jerry and Jay Strack are very gracious enough to let us use their box truck to pick up all the food," Porter said.
The food baskets will be distributed on Saturday.
"It's usually the Saturday before Christmas so they have all the makings of a Christmas meal," Porter said.
The NECF delivered more than 200 food boxes in 2011 and close to 200 in 2012.
"Right now I'm figuring 175 families, but a lot of times we get last-minute ones and we even take those on and delivery them that day, too," Porter said.
The program is run by volunteers, and the packages are treated anonymously to protect the identity of the families.
"Each box has a number and an address," Porter said. "That way, there are no names on it. So no one knows, who is delivering, unless of course they know that person."
The boxes are also labeled with an "F" then a number, such as F-4 for a family of four.
"We put the stuff in the boxes starting on Friday morning, and then we finish up with the cold - the dairy, turkeys and whatnot - on Saturday morning. And then we're usually out delivering by 8:30 in the morning," Porter said.
Anyone wishing to volunteer for the food packaging and distribution should call Shannon Porter at 518-523-9081. People are needed by 9 or 9:30 a.m. on Friday and by 7 a.m. on Saturday.