2009-10-31 / Front Page

Even giving is tougher in 2009

But charity will ‘keep helping out until we run out’

Normally, in early November, volunteers at Christmas House in Coudersport prepare for their open house. But this year’s event has been cancelled by the charitable organization, which at holiday time supplies gifts to around 1,100 needy children and shut-ins.

Director Alyce Reese said the open house was called off due to concerns about swine flu and seasonal flu. For similar reasons, this will be the first time in many years that Coudersport fifth-graders haven’t supplied cookies for boxes to be distributed at Christmas time.

It has been a difficult year for Christmas House, because in addition to providing gifts, the organization helps the needy year-‘round, both on its own and working with other charitable organizations. Reese said the volunteers have been inundated with requests to help families keep their utilities on, purchase prescriptions, and provide clothing.

Economic stresses in area communities have made 2009 the busiest year Christmas House has ever had. In some cases, former contributors have become families who are being helped.

By Labor Day, Christmas House had supplied 252 pairs of new shoes – a record number, and over 100 more than last year -- to needy children, through funds donated by the NDHP Motorcycle Fraternity.

Christmas House is operated entirely through volunteers and contributions. It receives no government funding. One drawback to not holding the open house is that some who attend use the opportunity to donate, just before the holidays and the winter season which places such a demand on families’ financial resources.

“We’ll keep helping out until we run out,” Reese says. Only once in the past has that happened; then a significant donation came in, replenished the coffers and ensured that those who needed help were able to receive it.

This year more than ever, that type of miracle is needed again. For more information on how to help, call 274-0825.

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