Gifts are for Giving

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Stephanie Osman, left, and Michelle Pacheco volunteer time to ring bells for the Salvation Army outside Brigiotta’s Farmland Produce and Garden Center on Fairmount Ave. The woman said more volunteers are needed to ring bells for donations to help those in the community who are in need of food, clothing, and toys.

How You Can Help Resources for Serving Chautauqua County

Article Contributed by
Robert Houston

“It’s better to give than to receive” is an adage that applies to every day of the year, not just to Christmas. But during this holiday season when so many folks are without the means to pay their bills and put food on their table, let alone provide toys for their children, those who do have a bit extra can give and, by giving, feel better about themselves and their community.
Each of the following groups can use volunteer help, right now, to provide food, clothing, and toys for the less fortunate families of Chautauqua County.

St. Susan Center

According to its website, “even with all the food and money in the world, St. Susan Center could not fulfill its mission without the support of its dedicated volunteers.”
Currently, St. Susan also needs more volunteers to help cook and serve the record number of meals being prepared each day during this holiday season. Volunteers also serve in other ways, such as washing dishes (they have a dish washing machine, folks, so it’s not a terrible chore), helping to upload food donations, distributing bakery products, posting mailings, helping plan events, and much more.
Special holiday needs are donations of food, cleaning products, dish soap, paper towels, plastic spoons, men’s tube socks, gloves, and other items.
“We get so many men who come in here and they need socks and gloves,” said Bonny Scott Sleight, director of St. Susan Center.
For more information on other needed items and where to deliver your donations, call Katie Murdock at 664-2253.
Sleight said, “The organization’s soup kitchen, through the Food Bank of Western New York, can buy a lot more food for each dollar spent than most individuals and families. This means more people can be fed.”
Volunteers at St. Susan Center work anywhere from an hour or two a month to many hours. Some work as individuals and others volunteer in groups.
“St. Susan Center welcomes all those who want to help,” Sleight said.

Falconer officials held a brief ceremony Thursday evening at the village’s Memory Tree in the Community Building. A record 126 tags were placed on the tree this year in memory and honor of family and friends. This is the eighth year Falconer has presented the Memory Tree. Proceeds from the name tags will benefit the Falconer library and other local organizations. Attending the ceremony were, from left, Mayor James Rensel, Deputy Mayor DeEtte Dispenza, Village Historian Brenda Cavallaro, and Memory Tree Committee Member Jerri Yauchzy.

The Resource Center’s Toys for Tots

Terri Johnson, The Resource Center’s Toys for Tots Coordinator, said this year is unusual because “we have many more applicants than in the past and so far we have far fewer toys than we typically have at this point in our campaign.”
Especially needed right now, she said, “are items for teenage boys and girls, and for babies.” While those are ages “we usually struggle with,” Johnson said, “we accept toys for any age.”
Also needed, as always, are donations of money. Checks should be made out to Toys for Tots and sent to The Resource Center.
“We use that money to go buy toys are age groups we need to fill in,” Johnson said.
Toys for Tots is an activity of the Marine Corps Reserve, but the Resource Center has been coordinating the effort for the past 18 years.
“We started with just nine families and now we do above 2,600 children,” Johnson said. “Our goal is to put a smile on everybody’s face on Christmas morning.”
More than 100 volunteers will fill bags with toys and deliver them in time for Christmas. Donations of toys for any age many be left at any of the more than 100 boxes around the county. The boxes are available at many retailers and other businesses, as well as at The Resource Center.
“They aren’t hard to find,”Johnson said.

The Salvation Army Bell Ringers and Angel Tree Tags

Like many other agencies this year, The Salvation Army is having a hard time finding enough volunteers. Help is still needed, said Major John Merchant, pastor in charge of the organization, especially bell ringers, and specifically bell ringers for outside locations.
“Volunteers can work on hour or the whole day. It’s up to them,” Merchant said. Bell ringers will be needed “right up until five o’clock on Christmas Eve.”
To volunteer and help those in need of food, help with utility bills, and much more, call The Salvation Army at 664-4108. All of the money collected in the kettles “stays local,” Merchant said. “We use it throughout the year to help 650 to 1,000 families.”
For children, Merchant said, “We have the Angel Tree tags at Walmart. We still have a couple of hundred tags for children who don’t yet have gifts.”
The tags list the name and age of a child, and note what that child would like or needs for Christmas. Just take a tag, purchase the items, and leave them at the Customer Service Counter. It’s quick and easy, and you will have given one child a much happier Christmas than he or she would otherwise have had.
In addition to volunteering and buying gifts for a child, folks can donate food items, especially non-perishable items. Drop donations off at the Salvation Army’s office at 83 S. Main Street in Jamestown.

In addition to volunteering and buying gifts for a child, folks can donate food items, especially non-perishable items. Drop donations off at the Salvation Army’s office at 83 S. Main Street in Jamestown.