Generosity of Monroe residents provides Christmas gifts for 111 families

Gift donations filled Social Services Coordinator Mary Ann Kalm's office at Monroe Town Hall two years ago, when the Giving Tree program was in full swing. But more gifts are needed this year. Contributed

Buying Christmas gifts can be difficult for some families, who are struggling to pay their bills, but thanks to the Giving Trees for the Holiday Joy program, children from 111 Monroe families will wake up Wednesday morning to find presents under their tree.

Social Services Coordinator Mary Ann Kalm says a total of 415 individuals received gifts.

“The generous spirit of the community can be a bright light this time of year for Monroe families encountering challenges,” Kalm said. “Thanks to the generous spirit of the community, many families were able to have Christmas gifts.”

Volunteers sort gifts donated for families enrolled in Monroe Social Services’ Giving Tree program in the Council Chamber of Town Hall. Contributed

In the program, the Department of Social Services asks residents in need to provide a list of gift choices, to be as specific as possible, and to limit the value to no more than $50. Gift choices can include two clothing items and two non-clothing items.

The department produces gift tags that are placed on Giving Trees. Members of the community pick up a tag, purchase the gift and return it to the tree. Volunteers sort the gifts and distribute them, confidentially, to the respective residents.

“This year was one of the best years we had,” Kalm said on a gift pickup day at Town Hall. “Most of the gifts came back. People in this community are extremely generous and I’m grateful for their generosity.”

Giving Trees for the Holiday Joy Program were displayed from Nov. 21 through Dec. 10 at Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, the Monroe Senior Center, Town Hall, Newtown Savings Bank at Big Y Plaza and Clock Tower Square, Fawn Hollow Elementary School, Monroe Elementary School, Stepney Elementary School, Waves and Shaves, Lorraine K. Boutique and Turning the Page Books.

Firefighters help Santa

Santa Claus waits patiently as firefighters battle a blaze at a house on Hattertown Road Sunday afternoon. Firefighters delivered Christmas gifts with Old St. Nick after clearing the scene. Photo from the Stepney Volunteer Fire Department’s Facebook page

Volunteer firefighters from the Monroe, Stevenson and Stepney companies delivered gifts to families enrolled in the Giving Tree program.

Paul Haughney chose to share the heartwarming story of the delivery of gifts to his home in a recent comment on The Monroe Sun. It was in response to the story of how firefighters from all three fire companies extinguished a residential blaze on Hattertown Road this past Sunday.

“The ‘best part’ ( in addition to no one being hurt ) was that afterwards, at least 10-plus of these firefighters drove to my house, some with fire smoke still rubbed into their faces, to drop off presents from Santa as part of the Town Giving Tree program,” Haughney wrote.

“Read that again,” he continued. “Even after risking their lives they followed through with a prior commitment and delivered presents to my family to help Santa. Tremendous Xmas spirit showed by these firefighters. Thank you very much Stepney VOLUNTEER Fire Dept.”

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