No Scrooges in the Souhegan Valley Volunteers share the spirit of giving

If it’s true that happiness comes from giving, not receiving, local volunteers should be some of the happiest people around.

More than 300 families will have better holidays this year thanks to Share Outreach and more than five dozen of its volunteers.

Share serves Amherst, Brookline, Milford and Mont Vernon, and for Thanksgiving, the nonprofit prepared 345 baskets. This amounted to Thanksgiving meals for 1,637 people, with turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, canned vegetables, the makings for pumpkin pie, bread (donated by Cumberland Farms), as well as fresh apples, potatoes, and the makings for turkey soup (broth, pasta, seasonings, carrots, celery, and onions).

They had 64 volunteers over the two-day period last week, said Share Director Christine Janson, with many of them coming both days. And this year in particular they did double duty, because Share moved into its new addition. In early summer they dismantled the food pantry and then moved everything back into the new spaces.

“We are immensely grateful,” she said. “Without volunteers we can’t do anything. They are unbelievable.”

Last week, volunteers brought the turkeys from the New Hampshire Food Bank, packed boxes with food, then helped distribute the boxes.

Also, there were six men who volunteered to deliver baskets to folks who could not get to Share to pick up, mostly elderly or disabled.

There were also four businesses who sent volunteers to help: HPM Insurance, JP Pest Control, the Kenmore Stamp Company and Shaw’s Supermarket.

In addition, Meals on Wheels, which Share works with each week to deliver groceries to some clients, delivered baskets to seven more households.

For Christmas, it starts all over again, plus Share does a gift program for about 180 families with children ages 16 and younger, as well as for older teens and older adults.There are gift cards and everyone will get an additional food basket as well.

Share also works directly with the Holiday Toy Store to qualify families to receive necessities like clothing, winter jackets and boots and bedding.

Further north, the
Wilton-Lyndeborough Woman’s Club sponsors the Christmas Giving Tree, a way to help children in the two towns who would not otherwise have Christmas presents.

“There are children who don’t have the basic needs like a winter coat or sheets for their bed,” Dawn Tuomala told selectmen last month when she asked permission to place a tree in the town office lobby.

Trees will be located at Wilton Town Hall, the Gregg Free Library, Citizens’ Hall and the J.A. Tarbell Library until Dec. 12. The Woman’s Club also provides coats as part of a separate program.

In Amherst, groups like the Lions Club, with its annual craft fair, and the Junior Women’s Club, with its annual Turkey Trot, give their proceeds to local charities.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@
cabinet.com.