Santa’s Bag Gets Fuller!

santa_claus_carry_bag_150_clr_748Guilford—They came from over the river and through the woods to help fill Santa’s Bag—Piscataquis Santa, that is. The first day of December brought some winter weather but that didn’t deter folks who visited the  Valley Grange Hall for generous helpings of Barbeque and Bluegrass. The event was a collaborative effort which saw Penquis—the organization responsible for Piscataquis Santa—and Valley Grange, well-known for its support of local schools and children. The event raised over $700 thanks to community support and sponsors.

“This does say a lot about our communities,” said Walter Boomsma, program director for the Grange. “But it also says a lot about our volunteers. All of our food was donated and we even managed to auction off some leftovers and remaining home-baked pies to add to the cause.” Organizers estimate at least sixty meals were served and no one left hungry.

The goal is to provide warm winter clothing (i.e. jackets, ski pants, boots, hats, mittens) and a Christmas gift for children, infant to 16 years of age, who live in any of the five school districts in the greater Piscataquis area (MSAD #4, #41, #46, #68, and Union #60). Parents register their children to receive these items. These items allow children to have clothing that will keep them warm and to receive a gift marked especially for them at Christmas time. With over 400 children already registered, Penquis Office Coordinator Sheree Brown estimates that 700 children will be served through the program in some fashion this year. “Thanks to the support of many individuals, organizations, and businesses, we are very confident we’ll be able to meet every need.”

Brown also notes that parents were invited to write a few sentences about what the program meant to them when they registered this year. One parent wrote, “We have nine children and never enough income, so Christmas is a big hardship for us. This project is such a wonderful outpouring of love and support for the community. We feel truly blessed to be recipients of such generosity.”

Boomsma said he agrees with that parent. “The food was great, the bluegrass music had toes tapping, but the best part of the evening was feeling the love and support of the volunteers and attendees. Collaborations between Penquis and Valley Grange are always good, but there’s something very special about this one. You just knew you were being part of something that is both important and good.”

Music for the evening was provided by members of the Cambridge-based Back Porch Bluegrass Band and Santa himself arrived both to hear the requests of children attending and to say “thanks” to his helpers. A complete list of sponsors and donors can follows. Additional information regarding the Santa Fund is available at