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Christmas Sharing serves over 1,200 children in Lewis County


LOWVILLE — Careful coordination by Christmas Sharing volunteers at three staging areas last week helped bring presents to more than 1,200 children and more than 700 food boxes to households in Lewis County.

The program was started in 1982 by James M. Freeman and the late James F. Manzer.

“Every year, it’s gotten bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Mr. Freeman, the program’s coordinator. The program, which annually distributes food and gifts to needy families in the county, is incorporated under the auspices of the Lowville Food Pantry. It has been registered with the state under the Christmas Sharing Holiday Assistance moniker.

“It’s getting a little more organized,” said Daniel N. Taylor, CEO of the food pantry, which has federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

Last week, the Lowville Elks Lodge was the setting for the packaging of 450 food boxes that were distributed to families with children. Lewis County Office for the Aging handled more than 250 food boxes for senior citizens, while Lewis County Opportunities handled 100 for single or childless households.

That volume is a far cry from the program’s beginning years.

“We fell flat on our faces,” Mr. Freeman said. “We had only five or 10 food baskets the first couple of years.”

They didn’t give up. Soon afterward, Jolynne R. Brinkley joined the program. Mr. Freeman said her addition and the use of computers helped the program to continue and grow. Despite announcing her retirement last season, Mrs. Brinkley stayed in volunteer mode last week.

The presents come from angel tree and cash donations.

Essenlohr Motors organizes a Toys for Tots collection by encouraging donations to fill a pickup truck. By giving all toys to the Christmas Sharing program, Essenlohr is able to keep all donations local. More than 1,800 toys were collected, along with nearly $800 in cash.

New this year was another pickup truck collection spot. Nortz & Virkler invited the public to donate nonperishable food . The dealership also offered the use of a truck to deliver 400 turkeys donated by Tops Market, owner Timothy O. Nortz said.

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