Somebody Socked It to Us!

Why is FedEx bringing a package? We aren’t expecting anything… Once it arrived, we discovered we have another anonymous Grange Angel. (We have our suspicions!) As the photo shows, inside the box from Target were a number of packs of socks—a generous and nice start to our “Sock It to Me” Collection.

If our math is correct, we have an 80 pair start! We haven’t set a goal but are now starting to wonder how many pairs we might end up with.

We plan to continue collecting through December. There’s a plastic tote on the porch of the Grange Hall where you can “sock it to us.” Better yet bring them to our Breakfast for Supper on December 3, 2021. (Don’t forget to RSVP.) If you want to “drop ship, ship to Walter Boomsma, Valley Grange, 17 River Road, Abbot ME 04406.

We need kids’ sizes and adults’ sizes. Boys, girls, unisex… warm socks are best, obviously but we’re not going to be choosey. We’ll be distributing the socks collected to school nurses where there is a need, either in late December or early January. Thanks for helping us help the kids!

The stockings were piled at the Grange Hall with care
In hopes children’s feet would be saved from cold air!

Sock It to Me! Sock It to Me!

At the November Valley Grange Meeting–at every meeting–we always discuss emerging and existing needs in our communities. One brought to our attention was that several schools in our area have expressed a need for socks! There are too many kids coming to school “sockless” and it’s not a fashion statement. So we’re starting a “sock drive” with the socks collected being distributed to school nurses where there is a need.

We need kids’ sizes and adults’ sizes. Boys, girls, unisex… warm socks are best, obviously but we’re not going to be choosey.

Grange members voted unanimously to make our Breakfast for Supper Program a key sock collection point and date. “We usually collect food cupboard donations at this meeting,” Community Service Chair Mary Annis noted,” so this year we’re adding socks. We’ll have a tote on the front porch of the Grange Hall. For those who can’t come to breakfast, swing by the Grange Hall and sock it to us by leaving some socks in the tote.”

“Since this is sorta last minute,” Program Director Walter Boomsma noted, “We’ll probably continue to collect throughout the month of December. Any and all help will be appreciated! We may try to set up some collection points around the area… if a business or organization is interested in helping with that, call me at 207 343-1842.”

The stockings were piled at the Grange Hall with care
In hopes children's feet would be saved from cold air!
Photo by Pixabay

Dictionary Day 2021 Has Arrived!

A team of Valley Granger members led by Walter Boomsma is delivering over 200 dictionaries to local area schools during the next two weeks. “We have a lot to celebrate,” he noted, “in spite of COVID restrictions, third graders in the area will have a Dictionary Day that focuses on tools, words, and the importance of learning.”

The Grange began its “Words for Thirds” Program in 2004 by giving a dictionary to every third-grader at the then Guilford Primary School. Over the years, the program has expanded to include Piscataquis Community, SeDoMoCha, Brownville, Harmony, and Ridgeview Elementary Schools. Boomsma estimates the Grange has distributed nearly 3,000 dictionaries since. “But it’s really not about the numbers. One kid, one dictionary. The stories are many but each one is personal. A dictionary can make a big difference in a child’s life.”

Since in-person visits are not possible due to safety concerns, the Grange has produced a short video for teachers to use while passing out the dictionaries. In the past, some schools have made field trips to the Grange Hall and Grangers have visited schools to make the gift personal and emphasize the importance of people helping each other. Jim Annis, president of the local Grange, rarely misses a presentation. “I love how excited the kids get. These dictionaries are truly empowering and the program has become a rite of passage. It takes some creativity, but we’re glad we can continue the tradition.”

Boomsma noted that these sorts of links and cooperation within the community are exactly what the Grange hopes to facilitate.  “We’re all about Community Service,” he said. “We’re also looking for people who share that passion whether it’s working with the schools and children or seniors or other community organizations.” He cites the Grange’s Blistered Finger Knitters as an example. “As a result of their efforts, we’ll be distributing some knitted hats and mittens along with the dictionaries. These are usually given to the school nurse for kids who need a little help staying warm.”

Our goal as a Grange is to support building strong communities. We offer a number of opportunities for folks to join us. Financial support is always needed and welcomed. Contributions can be sent to Valley Grange Secretary and Community Service Director at 28 Orchard Road, Dover Foxcroft ME 04426. We also need hands! In addition to mittens and hats for kids, we support the CHCS Hospice Program for veterans by providing lap quilts and afghans. There are always little jobs to be done around the hall. We are updating our project and program list but can say with confidence, we have a way that you can help based on your interest and time.

Come to a meeting or contact a Granger! Share our American values and help feed our hometown roots!

Wear Your Jammies!

Please join us! Breakfast for Supper starts at 6 PM… it’s not exactly a potluck but we’ll appreciate help with the food. Just letting us know you’re coming will help with planning–use the form below. If you have a special breakfast casserole or dish to share, great! If you’d like to help with the menu, contact Mary Annis (564-0820) or Janice Boomsma.(876-4131). This is family-friendly and kids are welcome!

A Potpourri of Pleasant Particulars

Craft Fairs

Members Pat Engstrom and Janice Boomsma are going to be at two craft fairs—and we’re promoting them because Valley Grange benefits because they share the proceeds with us! Visit them at:

  1. The Craft Fair at the Dover Foxcroft Fairground Dining Hall on November 20, from 9 am until 2 pm.
  2. The Kris Kringle Market at the Monson Community Center (former elementary school) from 9 am until 3 pm.

Shop ‘til you drop! You’ll be supporting local craftspeople and Valley Grange!

November Meeting

Our November meeting is Friday, November 19th with a potluck supper at 6 pm and a meeting at 7 pm. Please plan on attending—we’ll have a few items of business to discuss, including our hall use policy and agreement.

Christmas Breakfast

Don’t forget that our December Meeting will be special: A fellowship breakfast for supper on Friday, December 3rd. Breakfast starts at 6 pm—it’s not exactly a potluck but we appreciate help with the food! If you have a special breakfast casserole or dish to share, great! If you’d like to help with the menu, please contact Mary Annis (564-0820) or Janice Boomsma (876-4131). The Piscataquis Pomona is moving their meeting to this night so they can join us… and of course, the public is invited. Pomona Lecturer Dave Pearson from Wayside Grange and I will be sharing the program starting at 7 pm. Come in your jammies if you’d like!

Dictionary Days

We’re scheduling and delivering over the next two weeks. Coming soon to a school near you!

Busy Grangers and Grange Friends Visited by Grange Angel

In our last Valley Grange Gram, we noted that folks should “not clip their fingernails” before our October Meeting because we would be peeling and sticking labels into over two hundred dictionaries and sorting and preparing knitted hats and mittens for distributions to local schools. Well, an anonymous “Grange Angel” snuck into our hall and had everything finished for us! A handwritten note proclaimed, “glad to help in some small way.”

We do have our suspicions regarding the identity of our angel, but we’ll protect her identity and simply say, “Thank you!”

Anyway, as a result we were able to bag up hats and mittens and are now ready to begin scheduling “Dictionary Days” around the area. For those unfamiliar, on Dictionary Day Valley Grange provides third grade students with their own personal dictionary at Piscataquis Community Elementary School, in Guilford SeDoMoCha Elementary in Dover Foxcroft, Harmony Elementary, Brownville Elementary, and Ridgeview Elementary in Dexter. Thanks to our Blistered Finger Knitters we also provide a bag of mittens and hats–usually entrusted to the school nurse– for use with students in need.

Walter Boomsma, Valley Grange Program Director, noted that distribution “may be a little different this year.” Historically Grangers have made person visits to schools and, in some cases, third graders have made field trips to visit to the Grange Hall on Guilford Center Road. “We’re still working with the schools on some ideas,” he noted. “At a minimum, we’ll provide a prerecorded video explaining how we hope the kids will use their dictionaries. We’ll also explore the idea of a ‘virtual’ classroom visit.”

Folks in the area who might like to become an angel have a number of opportunities that don’t necessarily involve sneaking into the Grange Hall, according to Mary Annis, Community Service Director. “We definitely can use more knitters… this is not a one time need–we often get requests for more mittens and hats as the winter lingers on. Yarn donations are also helpful and we can often supply yarn to our knitters.”

Prospective Community Angels can get their wings by contacting any member of Valley Grange or attending a meeting. “COVID has changed some things but it is not going to stop us,” Boomsma noted. “We are always looking for opportunities to serve and strengthen our communities. And that means we are always looking for like-minded folks of all ages. Let’s fly together!

For information about future projects and meetings, visit the Valley Grange Website at http://valleygrange.com or their Facebook Page.

Parkman Grange Announces Santa Fund!

The 2021 MSAD 4 Santa Project will again be administered by the Parkman Grange. This program helps out local families by providing warm winter coats, boots and a toy to MSAD 4 area kids, from newborn to high schoolers.

According to Sue Manchester, president of Parkman Grange, due to COVID restrictions there will be a few changes this year. Applications will NOT be sent home by the school but will be available at town offices in Abbot, Cambridge, Guilford, Parkman, Sangerville and at the library in Guilford. They will also be available any time at the Parkman Grange Hall in the bulletin board on the porch. The Grange Hall is located at the corner of State Highway 150 and North Dexter Road in Parkman.

Application deadline is November 12, 2021. Distribution date is Sunday, December 19, 2021, 10 AM to noon.

Lap Robe for a Vet

Photo by Janice Boomsma

Check out this beautiful afghan handcrafted by Grange Member Mary Annis and donated to our Lap Quilts and Afghans for Veterans Program. Thanks, Mary!

You don’t have to be a member to participate in this program… we are supporting the Community Health and Counseling Service’s Presentation honoring Veterans as part their hospice program. The program includes the formal presentation of a pin, certificate, and patriotic lap quilt or Afghan attended by Chaplain Char Chandler-Stevens, a representative of the military, and family and friends. Our support includes promoting the program and encouraging quilters and crocheters to help supply the lap quilts and Afghans.

We’re told that 50″ by 60″ is a good size. As for color and style, “Either red white, and blue, or even ones themed by the branch of the service are wonderful. We have had some in the past that were made with Army material or Marines etc. The red white and blue are universal and VERY well received. We save the Army or Marine-themed ones for someone who has either retired from that branch or has a big identity with that branch.”

See the page about the program for more information including drop-off locations. Contact Walter Boomsma or any member of Valley Grange for information and assistance.

Then and Now!

Come see us at the Piscataquis Valley Fair

We sweated through setting up a “then and new” display in the Grange Building demonstrating how some things are and how they used to be… The display also features information about some of the projects we do, including our recent “Quilts and Lap Robes for Veterans” in support of CHCS’s Hospice Program. Stop by while visiting the fair–it’s open today through Sunday. The photos don’t do it justice!

Special thanks go to Irene Thomas for giving us a hand… and to Alex and Lilly for helping us unload! Help will also be sought for take-down on Sunday… contact Mary Annis at 564-0820 if you can help!

Valley Grange Receives Honor

by Walter Boomsma

At our June meeting, I noted that while we recently haven’t had a lot of publicity, our credibility and reputation seems to be intact. Fifth Grader Olivia Goodwin offered proof that I am right! On June 16, 2021, Piscataquis Community Elementary School students held an assembly to formally express appreciation to those organizations and individuals who support them. Olivia spoke at some length about the many ways Valley Grange supports P.C.E.S. She truly thought of everything—not just this year but throughout our long relationship with the school—things like Bookworming, Words for Thirds, GrowME, Newspapers in Education… for a while it sounded she’d never finish! It was a proud moment for Valley Grange. We were presented with a copy of the book written by the students, “Behind the Mask – our COVID Memories ’20-21.” It was my honor to be invited to accept a copy on behalf of Valley Grange. (Due to COVID restrictions the assembly was not open to the public.)

I have always been proud of our kids but never more than on this day. Not only have they made it through an extremely tough year, they wrote a book about it and conducted an assembly to introduce it and thank the many people who make P.C.E.S. “a great place to learn.” Speakers included some first graders—they all did an amazing job!

And the 136-page book is amazing too! It includes essays, interviews, poems, artwork… all created by students. In describing it, P.C.E.S Principal Mrs. Wright said, ”Epitomized by their energy and their resilience, our students are our beacons. All too often, however, their voices are lost. This book is the exhibition of those voices. Listen as the students share their voyage and give meaning to our collective to our collective experience. Impactful in its simplicity, this book will tug at your heart.”

The book will be available for review at upcoming Valley Grange events. Copies are also being distributed to local libraries and town offices within the district.