Byline: Ellie Oleson
COLUMN: TELEGRAM & GAZETTE SANTA
The 60 members of Paxton Post 306 American Legion each made difficult sacrifices to defend this country in time of war, and now sacrifice their tips to make sure children have a happy Christmas.
Post Commander Timothy E. Hackett said a "Santa" cup sits on the post bar throughout the year, and when post members bartend, they donate their tips. Other veterans drop change into the cup.
At the end of each year, the resulting funds are donated to the Telegram & Gazette Santa Fund.
"We've been doing it for years. It's something we like to do for the children who need it," Commander Hackett said.
He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966 and 1967 in Da Nang, Vietnam, the site of a vital air base.
"It certainly wasn't any paradise. I was just a kid and didn't realize how important what we were doing was," Commander Hackett said.
He said many of the active post members are veterans of Vietnam or subsequent conflicts, since most World War II and Korean War veterans are no longer active.
The members get together for a monthly fish fry and stay in touch.
"It takes one to know one. It's good that we get together," Commander Hackett said.
When they do get together, they always remember to put out the Santa cup for donations.
He said, "We like to support the kids. It's a good cause. The kids need it."
In its 72nd year, the T&G Santa Fund collects thousands of donations from generous readers and area residents to help buy toys for children in need in Central Massachusetts. Children 12 and younger who would otherwise not receive any holiday gifts are eligible to receive two toys each. Area agencies participating
include: the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities Family and Children's Services of Southbridge, Gardner Community Action Committee, WHEAT Community Services and Winchendon Community Action Committee.
Anyone who wishes to contribute to the fund can do so by clipping and filling out the form in the newspaper and mailing it to Telegram & Gazette Santa Fund, c/o Commerce Bank, P.O. Box 15204, Worcester, MA 01615-0204 or by going online to www.telegram.com/santa to donate by credit card.
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