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First Star Tonight celebrates 30 years of helping children in need

March 16, 2017
PLYMOUTH — This year, the charitable organization First Star Tonight celebrates its 30th year in helping children and young adults with serious medical problems, and their upcoming gala, featuring a night of dining, dancing and a live auction, is one way people can help them in their mission to assist friends and neighbors in central New Hampshire.

Three decades ago, a Plymouth State University professor whose young daughter was hospitalized at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover founded First Star Tonight. Driving home from a day of being with her at the hospital, he looked up to see the first star of the evening shining brightly in the sky. Inspired by the sight, he promised then and there that if his own child recovered, he would help other children and their families who were caught up in similar situations.

Since that time, First Star Tonight has assisted hundreds of families in a number of ways. They have helped purchase prescription medications, glasses, and gas cards to help get a child to medical appointments. Some of the children have received laptops or I-Pads so they could keep up with schoolwork during lengthy hospital stays, and First Star Tonight has even provided some much needed rest and relaxation through a brief vacation at a family resort.

Over the years, the organization has also helped families struggling with the financial burdens incurred due to a child's illness by donating money for groceries, heating fuel, and other household bills.

"We try to find out what will help the most," said board member Brian Chalmer. "Our goal is to take the burden off and if possible, put a smile on a child's face."

This year's gala will take place at the Plymouth Common Man Inn, where a great buffet dinner will be followed by the live music and DJ entertainment of the Chris White Band. Over the course of the evening, Common Man founder Alex Ray will also help auction off many great items, including a hand carved angel, some framed Duane Cross wildlife prints and other items generously donated by local craftsmen, artisans and businesses.

The popular Bear Raffle will also be back at the event this year. Chalmers said that for $20 people will be able to purchase a stuffed toy bear that will then serve as their ticket for a special raffle. Even those who don't win the raffle will still have the cuddly stuffed bear to take home at the end of the night.

The 2017 First Star Tonight Gala will take place on Friday, April 7, with doors opening at 6 p.m.; the buffet-style dinner will take place between 6:30 and 8 p.m., with a variety of cuisine that will "suit all tastes," Chalmers said.

Tickets for dinner and dancing are $35 per person and are now on sale at the Common Man Company Store in Ashland, Chase Street Market in Plymouth, or from any board member, including Laurie Coffin of Granite Group Realty, located at 607 Tenney Mountain Highway in Plymouth. Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the night of the event.

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