A Thank You to our residents from Chief Mathews: "Toys for Lebanon Kids" program

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The Lebanon "Toys for Kids" program of the East Lebanon Fire Corporation was a great success for another year. This Corporation is made up of responders of the Lebanon Maine Fire and EMS Department and each year helps to raise money for various Department needs and Community charitable events.

As your Fire and EMS Chief, I could not achieve this goal of helping so many Lebanon families with Christmas toy and gift items without some very hard-working people. I would like to take a moment, as we head into final days before the holidays to send a personal word of thanks, to the many Santa's Helpers who have made a difference in Lebanon this holiday season.

Our Department "Mom", Cindy Emerson, took the lead on this year's Toys program for the for 2nd year in a row, with the help of her sidekick, Deborah Wilson. On top of an already busy work and Department schedule, they added a fundraising Spaghetti Supper to boost cash flow, to be able to purchase gift items for the children. Newcomer to Lebanon, Susette Wight, along with husband Dan, her brother Bob, and her daughter Jess were a huge benefit to this supper, both in securing and donating raffle items, cooking for the Spaghetti Supper, and in gifting many items suitable for gifts to our older children. I would also like to thank Lebanon resident Mary Lane for all her help in baking cookies and selling raffle tickets for this event.

I would like to add thanks to Lebanon Select Board Chairman Chip Harlow and his wife Debbie for attending the supper to show the Department their support for this important program and for bringing along a Santa sized load of toys.

Each of you, the local Lebanon residents who attended, who brought new and unwrapped toys and gift cards, and who participated in our raffle should be proud of yourselves for helping the "Toys for Lebanon Kids" program ensure that many Lebanon children receive holiday gifts they might otherwise have been without.

There were many local businesses who donated goods and services for the raffle table. Welch's Hardware and Lumber, long time participants in the "Toys for Lebanon Kids" program, not only helped with raffle donations, but allowed a toy collection box in their store. Other raffle donors included Train's Tavern, The Hen House Café, Salvatore's Wheels & Deals, The Riverside Drive-In, Martha Cotoure (Author of "Parker the Pig" children's books), Curlie's Comedy Club, Union Street Trading Post, Venom Ink Tattoo, Fresh Vibes Café, Sweet Peaches Candy & Confectionary, Fork-N-Subs Pizzeria, Beth Blake Designs, Stonewall Kitchen, Lebanon Maine Truth Seekers, Jellystone Campground - Sturbridge MA, Smitty's Cinemas - Sanford, and Sebago Brewing Company. Dollar General of Lebanon also helped by allowing a donation box to be placed in their store. I encourage Lebanon residents to frequent these businesses and let them know you appreciate their help in our local charitable program.

We were very lucky to be able to partner with the members of the Riverside Grange #475 on Little River Road, using their Grange Hall for the Supper. This hall provided our Department with a comfortable, clean and roomy space for both the Supper and the raffle. My thanks go out to Worthy Master Daniel Corliss and his wife Christine for helping us with this project. Grange member David Harriman looked after every detail, setting up tables and keeping it warm and toasty in the hall. The Grange members all came as a group to enjoy supper before their own meeting in another room. This group, dedicated to community service and civic projects is often overlooked in Lebanon, however, I personally urge you to stop in and visit with them to hear the details of the service projects they are working on in Lebanon, in York County, and in the State of Maine.

Besides the Spaghetti Supper, our Department undertook a new challenge in 2017. Partnering with a local Christmas Tree merchant, Paul Drago, with a percentage of his tree sales going toward the "Toys for Lebanon Kids" program. Many residents stopped by the tree lot on Bigelow Road to purchase their trees this year. Once this season is complete, the final donation total for this endeavor will help this program provide toys and gifts for the 2018 Holiday Season.

The North Lebanon Second Baptist Church, chose the "Toys for Lebanon Kids" program as one of their charitable giving projects this year, gifting our program with a check for $500.00. I Thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful and generous gift. Pastor Mark Foster, who is also the Lebanon Fire and EMS Chaplain, and his congregation also very generously donated school supply Wish List items to seven Lebanon and Hanson Elementary School teachers during this season.

On December 16, The Lebanon Fire and EMS Station 2 at 1524 Carl Broggi Highway became "Santa Central" as 20 families came to pick up holiday gifts and toys for their children, aged infant to 16 years of age. In all, our program was able to give toys and gift items to 42 children, all residing within the Town of Lebanon.

Sending so many gifts home with parents for their children, helps us to remember to stay humble throughout the year as we know that without the help of so many, we would not be able to give to so many children. Department members Lt Michael Bayer, Sara Christiansen, TJ Gagnon, Jessica Davis, and Travis Ramsey, all volunteered their time and muscle to help move boxes and bags of toys to waiting vehicles. My thanks go out to each of these dedicated responders for their service to Lebanon and to this program.

As we all enjoy our holiday celebrations for 2017, I remind residents that the Toys for Lebanon Kids program is here for you each December. With help from the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, the Caravan of Toys program and many local resident, church, civic group and business donations, we hope to be able to reach every Lebanon family in need with gifts for Christmas, Hanukkah, and other Winter Celebrations.

As your Lebanon Fire and EMS Chief, I thank each of you for participating in the Toys for Lebanon Kids program and look forward to a year of health, prosperity, growth and safety in 2018.

- Chief Daniel Mathews,
Lebanon Fire and EMS Department

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