Here We Come, Santa!

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Just a few of Santa’s Helpers… Squash Secateurs really had their work cut out for them… no pun intended!

By Walter Boomsma

With a hearty “Ho! Ho! Ho!” lots of Santa helpers got together for a Harvest Festival to benefit the Piscataquis Santa Fund! The night may have been cold, but the warmth of community (not to mention all the steam from cooking) sure created a snuggly night!

Led by Chief Cook and organizer Sheree Brown, Santa’s kitchen workers put on yet another incredible meal! These meals have been so popular we’re creating a mailing list so folks can be assured they won’t miss one! (We’ll have both email and post card versions available… more to come about that!)

One diner tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You know what’s really nice about these meals?” He didn’t wait for me to answer before he added, “Seeing all these kids actually working!” (He was one of the first to ask to be on our mailing list, so we’re going to try not to disappoint him next time! Truth be told, I hadn’t noticed that the majority of our hard workers were young people! I did notice, however that there was always someone willing to work whether it was peeling squash, carving ham, or setting up very cold metal chairs upstairs.

Barbara never misses one of these... and I think she waved to make sure we noticed!

Barbara never misses one of these… and I think she waved to make sure we noticed!

People were quick to line up and harvest a plate full from the serving line but just about everyone left some room for apple crisp. In fact, we were fortunate to have a few “leftovers” but only until the band took intermission and we had an impromptu auction. We sold everything that was left–there wasn’t so much as a crumb remaining! And we raised yet another $58 for Santa in the process. How can you go wrong when you have this combination… great food, a fantastic cause, generous folks, hardworking volunteers…

But wait, there’s even more! There was lots of toe tapping and swaying to the music as the Friends Band including Kathy & Buzz Vanadestine, John Whitman, Gary Knowles, Cornell & Judy McLellan entertained us with some old favorites and some pretty bad jokes! (Do you know what Adam said to Eve in the Garden of Eden the day before Christmas? “Merry Christmas, Eve!”) Ba-da-boom. But you know you laughed.

While we didn’t give a prize for folks who traveled the longest distance, we were really pleased to have the Maine State Grange Master (president) join us all the way from South Portland. And while we consider Vicki a “dignitary,” she didn’t come as one. She came as a supporter both of Piscataquis Santa and Valley Grange. In fact, she sold one of the winning Meat or Heat Raffle Tickets!

We did have some questions about how Valley Grange and these events supports the Piscataquis Santa Fund. There are, as many know, sponsors grouped basically by school districts with Piscataquis Santa serving as an umbrella. Each of those districts is basically responsible for raising funds for their individual program, but one of the real benefits of the fund is the pooling of resources.  Valley Grange has members from “Monson to Millinocket”–therefore when we started these collaborative efforts, we determined that we would raise money under the “umbrella” and not specifically for any one district. In this way, if there is a particular need or shortage in one district, Penquis has the funds to meet that need.

Every year we get a few calls from people who’ve benefited from Piscataquis Santa in the past… they beg to volunteer to help because they fully appreciate the value of this program. Yes, it’s important to “pay it forward,” but in this way, it’s possible to “help pay back.” The generosity we experience from businesses and individuals is heartwarming and rewarding. Thank you, one and all!

The Friends Band donated their time and talent... thank you!

The Friends Band donated their time and talent… thank you!

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