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Lunenburg Again Answers the Christmas Call of Its Angel Tree

December 15, 2018
Lunenburg Executive Assistant Elaine Peterson poses with the Salvation Army "Angel Tree" in the Town Hall. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / STEPHEN LANDRY Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LUNENBURG -- Another successful campaign to provide toys and clothing to local children in need is in the (Santa) bag.

The town took part in the Christmas Angel Tree program, part of a nationwide effort sponsored by the Salvation Army, for the second time this year. The event wrapped up on Friday after collecting over 50 gifts donated by residents.

“It’s been a phenomenal response,” said Elaine Peterson, the town’s executive assistant. “I’m impressed by the way people have come out to help children in need. It’s wonderful to see so much Christmas spirit in the community.”

An Angel Tree, a Christmas tree donated by the Department of Public Works, was set up earlier this month in the lobby of the Town Hall and decorated with “Christmas Angels” -- blank tags which were filled out anonymously by local children, who listed their ages and what gifts they most would like to see under their tree this year.

The children also included their clothing size on each tag. Residents and town employees were then invited to select a child and donate the desired gifts. Items were dropped off over the past few weeks at the Town Hall, and will be distributed by volunteers next week.

Among the donated items this year was a bicycle, which came courtesy of a town employee who won a little extra money on a lottery ticket, according to organizers.

Envoy Lynnette Valentine of the Fitchburg Salvation Army, which also serves the communities of Leominster and Lunenburg, said she was touched by the generosity of residents this holiday season.

“It has been a huge success,” she said, adding that an Angel Tree was also set up at the Lunenburg Senior Center this year. “The outpouring of love for children in this community who might otherwise not have a Christmas has been amazing.”

Lunenburg resident and Salvation Army volunteer Dave MacDonald said he was touched to see support for so many local families.

“It just melted our hearts,” said MacDonald, who was among the volunteers who helped pick up the gifts on Friday. He said two trucks were required to transport the donated items to Fitchburg.

“We believe no children should go without a toy on Christmas, so we make it a personal mission to put an Angel Tree wherever we can.”

Although the program officially ended on Friday, organizers said they expected more donations to be collected next week.

Town Manager Heather Lemieux said last year’s program, during which Christmas Angel forms were available at the Town Hall, was such a success that organizers decided to display a tree in the lobby this season to allow even more residents to participate.

“I am so thankful to all the residents of this town for their generosity,” Lemieux said, adding that she was not surprised to see the community reach out to help their neighbors. “We already knew this was a generous community and that was definitely displayed this year.” Lemieux said she hoped the Angel Tree would become a holiday tradition in the Town Hall lobby. “It’s a great way to give back to people who are in need at this time of year,” she said.

MacDonald said he was pleased the town decided to place an Angel Tree in the Town Hall for the second year, making it easier for residents to participate in the program.

“I would go house-to-house if I had to to give an angel to somebody,” he said, adding that Angel Trees had become familiar sights over the past few years in office lobbies and malls.

“We try to reach out to anybody who would like to give a gift to a child for Christmas,” he said.

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