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Gifts, food, flowers delivered to Northern Oswego County families

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SANDY CREEK — Thankful and helpful.

Those two words described most of the 83 families who picked up gifts and/or food during the Friendship Thrift Shoppe’s annual Christmas basket distribution day Thursday at the Sandy Creek United Methodist Church, 2031 Harwood Drive.

“When you’re low-income, families don’t have a lot of money, so this helps,” said Jessica Thayer, Sandy Creek. “They do this every year, and I’m very thankful.”

In between loading boxes of food and then presents for her children, ages 4, 8, 9, 10 and 12, into her truck, she helped others recipients carry items to their vehicles. Random “Thank you” and “Merry Christmas” greetings were said throughout the morning, as volunteers from the shop’s board of directors and the church gathered to organize all items.

About 50 volunteers wrapped gifts for 217 children, ages 1 month to 18 years, at the church Wednesday.

Event co-organizer Peggy Manchester said needy families who have children in the Sandy Creek Central School District, or residents without children who live within that boundary, include people from Sandy Creek, Lacona, Orwell, Mannsville, Redfield and Richland.

“It’s just to cover the community and our people in it,” Mrs. Manchester said Thursday, as she had families sign in.

Toys for Tots donates some toys, but many are purchased with funds donated by area residents and businesses and thrift shop proceeds. Food comes from the Food Bank of Central New York, Syracuse, and some local stores. Cards redeemable for one frozen turkey at Tops here also were given to each family or individual resident.

“It helps. Growing kids eat a lot,” Ms. Thayer said after picking up two heaping boxes of food.

Roberta Curry, Orwell, said she was overwhelmed by her two boxes of food and three boxes of presents for her children, ages 6, 4 and 3.

“It’s tremendous,” she said. “I’m currently not employed, so it helps a lot. I didn’t imagine it’d be this much. I’m so grateful.”

Lacona resident Amber House agreed, and said she has participated in the Christmas distribution day since her daughter was born four years ago.

“I think it’s awesome they can help out and support everyone,” she said. “They do a lot for everybody.”

That also includes delivering just under 100 fruit baskets to shut-ins, and the thrift shop partnered with Hemlock Haven, 460 County Route 22A, to have that business make and deliver 39 floral arrangements to families who lost loved ones this year.

“If you lost a loved one, and this is your first holiday without them, it’s hard,” Mrs. Manchester said.

Thrift shop and community members volunteer to shop clearance sales for gifts, wrapping paper, tape and holiday gift bags for the distribution event throughout the year.

With gifts and food, Mrs. Manchester said, the total effort costs about $20,000 to $25,000.

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