|Lt. Kiley Williams holding some gifts that will be distributed, along with food items, |
on Saturday to more than 130 local families in need.
Union Leader Correspondent
|Bell ringers also needed to help reach |
the $200,000 annual fundraising goal.
Lt. Kiley Williams has the steps down pretty well, given it’s only her first Christmas manning the local outpost.
She’s toting bags of donated gifts, shuffling boxes of canned goods, loading and unloading kettles, making lists, checking them twice and doing her best to be Santa for about 300 kids in need, along with her husband, Lt. Chris Williams.
And as she accepts another shopping bag filled with toys and games, there’s a look in Williams’ eyes that hints at how overwhelming it can be to make sure Christmas happens.
“For the first time, we’ve had to cut off the list. We had to turn people away, which is terrible, but there’s just so much need out there; we can only do so much, and we wanted to make sure those who had signed up back in October were going to get what they needed,” said Williams.
Normally, they are able to take applications from families in need of food or supplemental gifts right up until Christmas Eve. This year, with donations down and demand up, they had to enforce a deadline. The last round of applicants will be in today for interviews.
“There’s a lot going on right now, but I think we’re going to make it,” said Williams. Bags of donations are trickling in, including eight brand new coats delivered yesterday by David Haddad of Derry, who makes a point of shopping for coats every year.
“I’m just fortunate to be able to do this. I don’t have little kids anymore, and my older kids like the idea of giving something to kids in need,” Haddad said.
Andrea Leo also came in with two shopping bags loaded with toys and games, apologizing that she’d missed Friday’s deadline for gift donations.
“We just want to remind anyone who missed last week’s deadline that it’s never too late,” said Williams, who has recruited about 25 volunteers to help load food and gifts on a truck and help distribute it starting Saturday morning to families who have signed up for assistance.
Not all donations have to be new.
Yesterday Arthur and Fran Savard dropped off their artificial tree – it still has a lot of life left in it, said Fran Savard.
“It doesn’t look like much in the box, but when you put all the branches it, it’s a nice tree,” said Arthur Savard.
Donations of stocking stuffers, canned goods and non-perishable food items — and gifts appropriate for boys of any age, or teenager girls — are still needed.
Also needed, said Williams, are empty boxes for packaging up Christmas dinners – and bell ringers.
“So far we’ve reached $80,000 toward our fundraising goal of $200,000. It’s the last push, these last two weeks before Christmas, and for whatever reason, we’re in desperate need of bell ringers,” Williams said. “Some are sick, some have quit – if you have an hour, we’ll find you a kettle to man.”
To donate, contact the Greater Derry Salvation Army, 18 Folsom Road, at 434-7790.