Local social service agencies prep for the holiday season

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Region - posted Fri., Nov. 22, 2013
The Hebron Interfaith Human Services food pantry is among the local social service agencies preparing to serve families during the holiday season. Contributed photo. - Contributed Photo

As the holiday season approaches, local service agencies are gearing up to prepare for families in need in local towns.

In Columbia, Bernadette Derring, director of the Beckish Senior Center, said that Jody Aubin, from social services, is collecting toys for needy children. “Any toy for any age range is good,” said Derring. Also needed at this time of year are perishable and non-perishable food items for Christmas meals. Vegetables, turkeys and other traditional holiday items are especially appreciated. All food items should be brought in by Dec. 18 in order to be available for holiday distribution.

The local Brownie troop is also collecting recyclable bottles in order to raise money to buy gifts for a local family. Bottles should be brought in by Dec. 3. All items can be dropped off at the Beckish Senior Center, 188 Route 66, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.

In Lebanon, social worker Heather Laurie expected to use up many food pantry supplies while preparing Thanksgiving gift baskets. “So I’d like to get that replenished for Christmas,” she said. Turkeys, hams, canned items, breads and other traditional holiday items would be appreciated. Food items intended for Christmas should be brought in by Dec. 10.

An ongoing holiday coat drive is also seeking coats of various sizes. Contact Laurie for specifics at 860-642-4580. Those interested in getting involved with a Secret Santa gift giveaway should also contact Laurie, for information about specific gift requests. Food and other needed items such as hats, mittens, scarves and other warm clothing can be dropped off at the Lebanon Town Hall at 579 Exeter Road.

Hebron Interfaith Human Services Director Kim Bowers said there are many families in need this holiday season in Hebron. The organization, which runs a food pantry and administers fuel assistance, is always in need of donations of food and money, and can especially use specialty items - such as supplies for holiday baking, olives and condiments - at this time of year. Other donations that are always appreciated include small appliances, sheets, blankets, pots, pans, towels, socks and other basic items. Donations can be dropped off at HIHS at 20 Pendleton Drive, Mon., Wed., and Fri., from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Tues. and Thurs., from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The office phone is 860-228-1681.

Laura Wheeler, director of the senior center in Franklin, said that she generally tries to put together a food basket for the Christmas holidays. Wheeler asks that those interested in helping to contact her closer to the holidays at 860-642-3936 for donation suggestions.

Laurel Andrews, the senior and social services representative for the town of Andover, said that the food pantry always has a need for staples such as peanut butter, jelly, canned vegetables and canned meats. “We’re getting more people every week,” said Andrews. This holiday season, the pantry will be serving approximately 150 families in town, she said. Especially appreciated at this time of year are holiday food items such as cranberry sauce. Food items can be dropped off at a box inside town hall, at 17 School Road. Items can also be brought directly to the food pantry at the lower level of the Congregational Church, at the corner of Long Hill Road and Route 6, between the hours of 5 and 7 p.m. on Mondays, or between 9 and 10 a.m. every other Wednesday. There is also a drop-off bin behind the church that is checked routinely.

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