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Column: Wrapping up hope for kids at Christmas

Ask my kids what their favorite thing about Christmas is, and they will probably say, "Presents."

I'm not saying my kids are abnormally greedy. In fact, I think their thoughts are in line with others their age.

Kids haven't connected Christmas to stress, crowded stores, or dwindling bank accounts like so many adults have.

Instead, they concentrate on what makes Christmas the sweetest, happiest season of the year.

Things like candy canes, Christmas cookies, Christmas services at church, Christmas concerts, trips to Grandma's house and, of course, gifts.

To kids. Christmas is a wonderful, perfect, simple time of year. It's not connected to whether or not they can afford it. And I think that's the way it should be.

In an effort to keep the Christmas season alive within the young hearts in our community, dozens of volunteers spent more than 1,000 hours in recent weeks with Santa Anonymous - a group that's committed to helping every child in New York Mills celebrate Christmas with a gift.

Although the official volunteer count is around 90, the fact remains that the efforts of Santa Anonymous wouldn't be successful without the support of the entire community.

This year, 170 children in 66 families received gifts from Santa Anonymous, and it all began with those who made donations.

Anyone who went to see the trees at the NY Mills Christmas Tree Festival and dropped a dollar or two in the basket at the door helped provide a present for a child.

All those who bid on the tree displays in the silent auction also supported Santa Anonymous. This year's tree festival raised a record amount of $4,500. The group also collected toys in donation boxes in businesses throughout the town.

Then there were the volunteer shoppers that used what little information they had about the kids - age and gender - and browsed local stores in search for the perfect gift.

The wrapping stage was next, with groups from the high school, as well as many community members, coming together for a day-long wrapping session. We were spread out across four rows of tables, organizing, wrapping and labeling dozens of presents.

Another group of volunteers put together food boxes, using donations from Dean's Country Market. More than 100 food boxes were distributed around town - one for each of the 66 families, plus 40 boxes for the elderly.

And finally, a separate crew of volunteers made the deliveries, quietly placing a bundle of wrapped packages and a box of food on each doorstep.

It's a lot of work to wrap up hope and distribute it to children in our community.

I would like to thank the community of NY Mills for coming together again to ensure everyone can have a happy celebration at Christmas this year.