More than 6,000 children received T&G Santa gifts.

Position:NEWS

Byline: Ellie Oleson

COLUMN: TELEGRAM & GAZETTE SANTA

More than 6,000 children in need received toys from Santa this past holiday season, thanks to thousands of donors to the Telegram & Gazette Santa Fund.

"People are very giving. Every child who needed toys received toys, thanks to everyone who was willing to make a contribution," said T&G Community Marketing Assistant Jane L. Simpson, who has been Santa Fund coordinator for five years.

The total collected for the T&G Santa Fund in 2007 was $181,706.33, which was down from the 2006 total of $194,747.15, but more than 2005's total of $180,890.71. The record was set in 2004 with $205,041.39.

The number of donors in 2007 was 2,539, down 138 from 2,677 in 2006.

In 2007, 2,156 families in Central Massachusetts sought and received assistance from the Telegram & Gazette Santa Fund. While this represents a decrease of 273 families from 2006, it also illustrates the great need within our communities.

Within those 2,156 families, 6,560 children received toys in 2007, down from 6,784 children served in 2006.

Each child received at least two toys or games, in addition to books and game balls. The gifts included dolls, toy cars, plush animals, play sets, board games and more.

Contributions came from schoolchildren, parents, grandparents, small businesses, large corporations, the self-employed, social clubs, civic groups and anonymous donors.

Irene M. and Harry C. Curtis of Auburn gave in honor of their five children, 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Members from several Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts continued to serve others through their generous donations, which came from the Victor Quaranta Post 397 in Shrewsbury, Chester P. Tuttle Post 279 in Auburn, Post 443 in Cherry Valley, Shannon-Davis Post 205 in Rochdale, Stowell-Parker Post 163 in Westboro and others.

As he does every year, Vietnam War veteran Dana F. Samuelson of Westboro donated "in memory of the 92 men killed in action from Company B, 3/22 Infantry, 25th Division Vietnam" and also in memory of the 58,000 American service members who died in Vietnam; 116,000 killed in World War I; 410,000 who died in World War II; 34,000 who died in Korea; 360 who died in the Gulf War; and nearly 4,000 who have given their lives so far in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I don't want people to forget," Mr. Samuelson said.

Southbridge resident Theodore Osowski and Worcester resident Audrey Flagg Starvaski remembered what it was like to grow up in an orphanage and gave to help brighten the lives of children now in need.

"I'm glad I can donate to the Gazette Santa now that I am in a position to give back," Mrs. Starvaski said.

Other donations came from children, teachers and staff from dozens of area schools, including Small Steps Preschool in Rutland, Sutton Elementary School, The Heritage School in Charlton, Farley Elementary in Hudson, Oxford High School, Elmwood Street School in Millbury, Leominster High School, and, in Worcester, Nelson Place, Our Lady of the Angels Elementary, Burncoat Senior High and Norrback Avenue schools.

Danielle R. Lynch, 7, a second-grader at St. Mary School in Shrewsbury, said, "We made Christmas ornaments to raise money for the newspaper Santa."

There were donations from the Greendale Retired Men's Chorus, the Worcester Columbus Day Parade Committee, the Worcester County Model A Club, several Red Hat Society branches and the guests at the wedding of Michael and Amanda Grenier.

Martha J. Enman of Auburn donated in honor of her nephew, Dillon Kempskie, and his teammates on the New England champion Worcester Vikings Peewee Pop Warner football team.

"Every kid deserves a break and toys at Christmas," Ms. Enman said.

Hundreds of donations were made in memory of beloved friends, pets and relatives, whose spirit and love were passed on to needy children. Richard and John Linga remembered their mother, Marion Linga, as they do every year with a donation to the T&G Santa.

The business community again came through, helping to make the holidays special for those who otherwise would have had no joy. Among donors are: Commerce Insurance Co. of Webster; UnumProvident Corporation of Worcester; Mercier Electric Co. of Auburn; Marois Brothers, Inc. of Worcester; Putnam Investments of Franklin; Storopack Inc. in Worcester; Apollo Motor Express Inc. of...

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