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Black River Good Neighbor Services commissioned by Santa to spread holiday cheer

LUDLOW - Once again, Santa asked Black River Good Neighbor Services (BRGNS) to give him an assist in making sure that every neighbor in need had a happy holiday. So, on the first day of winter, volunteers delivered Christmas food baskets and bags loaded with gifts for children and seniors.

With great support from other BRGNS board members and an army of volunteers, Ray Lavanway headed the distribution efforts.

"Volunteers from our local community came to Fletcher Farm at 10-minute intervals from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.," Lavanway said. "Volunteers loaded their vehicle with deliveries for three to four families and then drove off to the assigned addresses."

The towns served were Cavendish, Ludlow, Mt. Holly, Proctorsville and Plymouth.

"The group of volunteers who worked with me getting the boxes and bags lined up for pick-up was one of the best I've ever worked with. In fact, we completed the task in record time," Lavanway said.

By the end of the day, 140 families, consisting of 200 adults and 198 children, had received all the makings necessary for a Merry Christmas.

"Over the last seven Christmases, BRGNS has served 1,965 people who otherwise would not have had a Christmas dinner, or gifts," said Jim Fuller, outgoing president of the board. "It would have been impossible to meet this demand without the support of this incredibly generous community."

Wednesday night, Dec. 15, saw many individuals and families visit Fletcher Farm to help pack the boxes. These Christmas "elves" braved the cold to make a positive impact on people who, in most cases, they don't even know.

BRGNS board members thanked the volunteers and the many organizations that contributed to help make the food baskets and gift bags possible: Sons of the American Legion, Cumberland Farms of Ludlow, Black River Produce of Springfield, LaValleys of Ludlow, Shaw's of Ludlow, Fletcher Foundation, the Fletcher Farm School, and the Vermont Society of Artists and Craftsman, which enables this program to happen by donating the use of their building for an entire month.

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