“The need has always been great.” Northfield Rotary club joined Barre and the Gen Rotary clubs this weekend to box coats, hats, mittens and gloves for The World Santa program donations to the Salvation Army. For the 41st year Rotary clubs joined with The World to collect, negotiate, sort, wrap and distribute winter clothing, books and toys, coordinated this year by Major Keith Jache of the Salvation Army.
The weekend’s wrapping was only one part of a large chain of volunteer efforts starting with people like Cheryl Plude and Vesta McLaughlin knitting more than 400 pairs of mittens, scarves and hats during the year. Starting in October members of the Salvation Army Corp gather ages, sizes, color preferences and needs, and make a list (and checking it twice). October is when wrapping paper starts to go on sale! 36” rolls are needed to cover the boxes donated by the Vermont State Archives and Records.
In November Rotarians take Salvation Army’s list and purchase coats, gloves and hats. Gary Hass remembers over the years going to Gaynes Department Store (remember Gaynes?), Harry’s and Lenny’s. This year Costco filled the list and allowed for additional purchases when a sale the following week produced a credit … which was good because the list by then had grown from 150+ to more than 200 names.
For many years the filling and wrapping of boxes was hosted at the Steakhouse on the Barre-Montpelier Road and in recent years Museum Director Scott McLaughlin has donated space at the Vermont Granite Museum. Elves Kay and David Santamore and Ruth Weeks spent Friday setting up tables, unfolding the boxes and lids, writing out labels, sorting items by size/age and putting coats in each box with the label indicating age, gender and size.
On Saturday Rotarians from Northfield, Barre and Gen Rotary clubs gathered. Some stood at tables cutting wrapping paper to the right length to wrap the boxes. Some people filled and stacked the boxes with the coats and added mittens, gloves and scarves as well as books donated by Aldrich Library and stuffed toys. Other volunteers took those boxes and wrapped them with the cut paper. Still others took those wrapped boxes and stacked them on pallets that were then moved into a large truck. The remaining mittens, hats, scarves, toys and books are gathered up and joined the wrapped boxes on the truck for delivery to the Salvation Army. Afterwards everyone enjoyed pizza, burgers and fellowship. Barre Rotarians Ted Goulette and Karl Rinker were recognized by Barre President Eddie Rousse for their heroic efforts this year.
And the effort continues! Over the next few weeks, the Salvation Army will match the box labels to the names on their list and make ready for pickup and delivery … and warm smiles.
As everyone relaxed on Saturday, met new people from other clubs and caught up with old friends from “over the mountain”, one group was the “Over 50 club”; couples who have been married over 50 years … to the same person! While many things change over time, many other things remain. The wrapping hall has changed from the Steakhouse to the Vermont Granite Museum, but the need for warm coats has not. Central Vermont Rotary became Gen Rotary, while the World Santa Coat drive remained. Member names have changed from Wally Farnum, Dave Coburn, Ed Peterson with Ted and Pat Nelson to Casey, Kendall, Abby and Chandra, while support of the central Vermont community remains. Barre Rotary has increased the scope of the drive while the commitment of the Salvation Army and Rotary clubs to do good in the world remains.
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