Letter of appreciation: Donations made Christmas merry for many

Thanks to the help and support of many, many people and organizations, the HOPE Holiday Shop, and our holiday food box distribution were a great success.
The Holiday Shop served 578 children. Parents who would otherwise be unable to provide holiday gifts for their children select from a stock of new clothing, toys, games and books. The shop would not exist without community support, including volunteers and goods. This year, the largest contributors of gift items included St. Mary’s Parish, St. Ambrose Parish ,St. Peter’s Parish, Weybridge Church, Middlebury College, National Bank of Middlebury, Addison County Home Health and Hospice, Coldwell Banker Bill Beck Real Estate, Kinney Drugs, Waitsfield Telecom, Wow Toyz, Recycled Reading, the Vermont Federal Credit Union, and UTC Aerospace.
Thanks to generous contributions from Bonnie’s Books, the Wells Mountain Foundation, Vermont Book Shop and Kelley Media Services, parents were able to choose multiple books for their children, from a wonderful selection that included many newly released titles. Special thanks go to the women at the North Ferrisburgh Church for donating many lovely towel sets. Thanks to our local dentists for donating toothpaste and toothbrushes, and thanks to local Girl Scout troops who, with the urging of Lyn DeGraff, conducted toothbrush drives.
Donated gift items this year included snow pants, warm jackets and adorable dresses, as well as the most popular toys and games, such as “Star Wars” and “Frozen”-themed items, Lego sets, and Goldie Blox activity sets. Particularly popular for teens were instruction books on drawing and painting, art supplies, and craft kits.
The core shop hosts this year were Eileen Bearor, Ann Collier, Helen Haerle, Gale Hurd, Patty McCormick, Darlene Palmer, Alice Reynolds and Jane Steele. This group set up the shop, kept it stocked and efficiently arranged and worked many shifts assisting parents. They were aided by dozens more who took shifts during the six weeks the shop was open, and each and every volunteer was helpful, and a pleasure to work with.
Our holiday food boxes this year offered a choice of turkeys, chickens or hams, as well as other holiday meal ingredients including fresh local potatoes, squash, apples and carrots. These boxes were provided to 1,145 individuals in 379 households. This wonderful program was supported made possible by donations of food, and many volunteer hours. Food for the boxes, as well as food to restock the nearly empty food shelf, was provided by many dozens of churches, individuals, businesses, schools and other organizations.
The largest contributors were members of the Congregational Church of Middlebury, Global Foundries, Bridge School, Middlebury College, Middlebury Union Middle School, Addison Central Supervisory Union, Mary Hogan School, Red Cedar School, Sunshine Daycare, Middlebury Union High School, Sanel Auto, Bread Loaf Construction, TJ Maxx, the Town of Middlebury Turkey Trot, and the Addison County Chamber of Commerce. Farms donating produce included Elmer Farm, Gildrien Farm, Bella Farm, Last Resort, LaLumiere, Windfall Orchard, Monument Farms Dairy, and Maple Meadow Egg Farm. Very special thanks goes to Will and Judy at Golden Russet Farm for their great generosity.
Many thanks to Ed Sullivan and his group at St. Mary’s Church who collected turkeys and other foods for holiday meal boxes that were distributed to clients of WomenSafe, the Parent/Child Center, and HOPE. Thanks also to Otter Creek Bakery, the Culinary Arts students at the Hannaford Career Center, Panera Bread, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, and Hannaford Market. Many others contributed, too many to list here, but we want them to know that we are grateful for each can or box of food, each turkey, the eggs from their backyard flock, and the potatoes that a donor purchased for us repeatedly after we ran out of the ones from our farms.
We are appreciative of all the food shelf volunteers, both the core year-round group of John, Anna, Tom, Stuart, Yolanda and Rita, and this year’s seasonal volunteers who helped pack the boxes. Their cheer and enthusiasm, as well as their kindness to food shelf customers was wonderful.
Many low-income families in Addison County rely on the Holiday Shop and the opportunity to receive holiday meal boxes. Thanks to everyone who helped make it all possible. Your assistance and generosity have made a positive impact for many children, youth, families and senior citizens.  
Jeanne Montross
Executive Director

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