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Forty-two days and 700 children later...


Angels & Elves proved once again that the Valley has a huge heart



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Tommy Hilfiger New England District Manager, Shannon Henderson-Dures, presented a check for $5800 to Angels and Elves. Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
January 21, 2010
The following week Santa's elves were busy in the back room unpacking boxes, setting out toys and hanging winter clothing purchased on sale from JC Penney the year before on racks donated by TJ Maxx. Telephones were put in, office equipment put in place, forms were reproduced by Citizen's Bank and Northway Bank, files set up, computer database templates created, and instructions put in place. Two new teams were formed, for a total of 14, and teamwork areas were taped off, each sized to process gifts for 50 children. Advertisements had been forwarded to the Daily Sun and Mountain Ear and appointments made with WMWV and WPKQ for interviews — the stage was set.

The doors opened on Nov. 9. The effects of the economy were immediately evident as a record number of applications for support were processed over the next few weeks. The question arose as to whether there would be enough sponsors; certainly the economy would affect them also. At some point in the process, a decision had to be made when to send out A & E "buyers" for those families who might not be sponsored.

Fortunately, there were many fund-raising activities this year that provided the elves with the means by which to fill Santa's sleigh. The Mt. Washington Lodge #87 F & AM kicked it off by hosting a complete breakfast buffet. Others that followed were the Shannon Door Pub, the Red Parka Pub, Eagle Mountain House, Bagley Handbags and Soyfire Candle, White Mt. Cider Co., Zumba Fitness, CVS, Designs by Lisa, Kennett High School Key Club and the Kennett Boys and Girls basketball teams. The lady in Prague who celebrated her birthday by having donations made in her name was responsible for 78 donors contributing from 10 different countries.

Then there were various groups and organizations that took up collections. The New England District of Tommy Hilfiger selected Angels and Elves as its charity of choice this year. The selection was made after local store manager David Donald nominated Angels and Elves. There were 238 employees from seven stores in Mass., Maine and N.H. who all contributed. Shannon Henderson-Dures, Northeast District Manager, presented a check for $5800 in early December.

At the same time, seven store managers from the district spent the afternoon wrapping gifts. Employees at Varsity Beverage saved change all year from their coffee mess and soda vending machine to present $750 to Angels and Elves. In a like manner, the Vista Store and many other groups and organizations also took up collections and made monetary contributions. Notable were those parents and friends, in response to teacher desires, who donated over $400 on behalf of the Jackson Grammar School. Significant outright donations were made by such groups, organizations and establishments as Country Cabinets, Knights of Columbus, Pete's Restaurant Equipment, Story Land, Mt. Garden Club, and Christ Church Episcopal Churchwomen.

Stuffed animals, hats and mittens, board games, books and toys were donated by the H.O.G.S., White Mt. Board of Realtors, Attitash Ski Resort, Charlie's Coins, Borders Express, Pine Tree School, Zeb's, Dollar Tree, and Ragged Mt., as well as by numerous individuals. The Velo Club donated five bikes along with helmets. The Mountain Ear, Holiday Inn Express, Green Granite Inn and Nordic Village Resort all donated Polar Express tickets.

There were 275 sponsors who purchased gifts for 618 children. Once again, it was the area schools which led the way by sponsoring 30 children. The Flatbread Company and Christ Episcopal Church took 10 children each. More children this year meant more gifts that in turn meant more wrapping. In addition to a large number of individual volunteer wrappers, groups such as the John Fuller K-Kids and the Young Professionals were able to take care of a large number of packages. Wrapping was further enhanced with clothing gift boxes donated by JC Penney.

Forty-two days and 700 children later, Elf Headquarters doors closed. Supplies and equipment were packed away, tables broken down, telephones disconnected and all moved back to the Glen Warehouse. Five hundred rolls of wrapping paper and 700 Christmas cards purchased on sale were also stored for next year.

When asked what stood out this year as particularly significant, Head Elf, Dick Ficke, was quick to praise team leaders and office staff led by fellow Kiwanian, Marie Lee, Assistant Head Elf.

"Obviously significant was the record number of children this year," noted Dick. As a reflection of the economy there were 299 new children to the program this year. "Just as obviously significant is how the community sensed this was going to be a bad year," added Ficke, "and came through with an equally record number of fund-raisers, sponsorships and donations."

He paused for a few seconds and then reflected that one gesture of giving will stand out in his mind for some time. A nine-year-old girl had earned $15 in her school craft fair. In the finest spirit of Christmas, she hand-wrote a note: "To Angels and Elves, please give this to someone in need to have a Merry Christmas."

Yes Virginia…

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