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18th annual Children’s Gift and Fund Drive starts today

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The Bernier, Carr & Associates 18th annual Children’s Gift and Fund Drive will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. today at the Black River Valley Club, 131 Washington St.

Kelly E. Reinhardt, director of business development and community relations, said the event, which is co-sponsored by the Paul G. and Kathleen E. Carr Foundation, will help hundreds of children living in Jefferson County have a merry Christmas.

“The reading room at the club (will be) halfway filled with Christmas gifts, and then there’s a great party upstairs,” she said.

Admission to the party, which will feature drinks and hors d’oeuvres, is just one unwrapped new toy for both a boy and a girl. Monetary donations are also accepted, as they help provide food for families to have a nice holiday meal. The event is open to adults.

While the toys can be for children of any age, Ms. Reinhardt said there’s a particular need for gifts for older children.

Paul G. Carr said the event helps more than 400 children and their families.

Mr. Carr, one of the founding partners of Bernier, Carr & Associates who has since retired, said the gift and fund drive developed from an idea he had about getting into the holiday spirit. The easiest way, he said, is for people to buy a gift. That is what he had the firm’s 12 partners do 18 years ago.

After the tasks were completed, he said, someone asked him why that would be limited to just staff. Within a short time, Mr. Carr pulled together an office party and had about 60 to 70 professionals attend. Now, a few hundred people attend the event.

“People come, and it’s exactly what I tried to achieve the first year — people getting in the holiday spirit,” Mr. Carr said. “Come with a good attitude. No invitation is required. There’s really no excuse not to go.”

He said he’s ecstatic the event keeps growing.

“Amazingly enough, I truly believe this stands alone,” Mr. Carr said. “We’ve been pretty stable over the years.”

After gifts are collected, they are delivered to nonprofit organizations in the area and distributed.

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