Volunteers still needed to spread "Spirit of Sharing"

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BENNINGTON — Volunteers are still needed to donate presents for 35 children in need as part of the local Spirit of Sharing efforts.

The deadline to purchase gifts is fast approaching — gifts are due by Friday, Dec. 15.

Community members this year have given an "amazing outpouring of support," according to Beth Sausville, district director of the state Department of Children and Families. About 350 children had been signed up for the effort, which pairs individuals, organizations and businesses with families in need. It's run as a collaboration between the Catamount Rotary Club and local staff with the state Agency of Human Services.

"It really does brighten the holiday spirit for kids who are in need," Sausville said.

This year is the fourth the program has distributed gifts for families in need since it was revived in 2014. Prior to that, the program existed in Bennington from 1983 to around 2008.

In order to qualify, families in need had to register with DCF's Economic Services office. Once someone volunteers to purchase gifts for, or "adopt," a child or children, the volunteer is given a "wish list" from each child and are told the child's gender.

Volunteers are asked to spend between $25 and $35 per child. Volunteers can drop gifts (unwrapped with the wrapping supplies) off at the second floor of the state office building on Veterans Memorial Drive. That's where families will pick up the gifts.

In 2016, 378 children across Bennington County were "adopted" by 118 individuals, organizations and businesses, organizers say. About 70 groups consisting of employees of area businesses and members of organizations whom pooled resources to purchase gifts for one or more child.

For more information, visit the Bennington County Spirit of Sharing page on Facebook. Those looking to volunteer can also email Sausville at Beth.Sausville@vermont.gov or Sadie Fischesser with AHS at sadie.fischesser@vermont.gov. The volunteer sign up form is at: https://goo.gl/forms/utcvISmygLFVMYck2

Ed Damon can be reached at edamon@benningtonbanner.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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