A Community Giving Tradition

Megan Brendel, HNHBH volunteer

Hartford-Norwich Holiday Basket Helpers

Making a difference in the local area is very important to me and when I was asked to help deliver Senior Fruit Baskets, I jumped at the chance to help and brought my two young children. I think my kids were 8 and 6 at the time and they still remember the faces of some of the seniors when they opened the door. I do! Pure joy and gratitude. The next year, I was asked to organize the Senior fruit baskets and the rest is history! I love helping our Seniors and organizing people who want to help our Seniors, too! Many Norwich families have contributed Raisins through MCS, sorted the cans, filled the bags and helped deliver the bags. The combined community efforts make the whole program successful year after year. Thank you, everyone, who has ever volunteered, sponsored or contributed to the success of HNHBH.      

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~ Megan Brendel, Norwich
As long as anyone in the organization or those who came before them can remember, Hartford Norwich Holiday Basket Helpers has been helping to bring joy to the children and seniors in these communities. HNHBH works to provide support for families, seniors, and individuals in need during the holiday season by seeking donations and sponsors to buy presents for children whose families may have trouble purchasing gifts, and donations to create ‘baskets’ for seniors and individuals who may otherwise be forgotten at this emotional time of year. 

Norwich Women’s Club members and Dan Fraser support HBH

Every Fall, HNHBH receives referrals of children from schools, religious and other community groups from Norwich and Hartford. Their parents are asked to list three clothing items and two toys that their children would enjoy. A volunteer sponsor then makes the tax-deductible purchases, which HNHBH organizes and gets to the family, ensuring that the youngsters have presents for the holiday.

“It really is rewarding to know that you’re helping a child in your own community,” Clare Forseth, one of the HNHBH volunteers, said in a telephone interview. “Because you are helping Norwich and Hartford families, you know this is someone right in your neighborhood going through a very difficult time financially,” Forseth said. “It is a way for volunteers to help and for parents to ensure children will have gifts for the holidays.”

Last year, 108 kind sponsors, together with the many enthusiastic members of the Quechee Elves and the Riverbank Church, provided gifts for 427 children in 184 families during the holiday season. Thanks to our generous 88 donors, HNHBH was able to provide a food card to each family. Our organization also provided ‘baskets’ to 158 Hartford and Norwich Seniors: each “basket” filled with non-perishable canned fruit, collected by the local elementary schools each November. Fresh fruit that is purchased using donated funds is added, as is a handmade card, ornament (often made by local girl scouts and church groups) and a generous grocery food card so they can enjoy a holiday meal. 

Loyal volunteer Kristin Close

Ensuring that our neighbors are helped and not forgotten requires months of preparation and effort by a small group of only 8 full-time volunteers. The volunteer numbers grow exponentially each year during drop off week, with dedicated people who return year after year to help organize the countless gifts and donations. Each year there are more and more families who seek help, finding enough sponsors for all the children is the most difficult piece to accomplish. For the past three years, the Basket Helpers have been overwhelmingly grateful by the outpouring of support from the Norwich and Hartford communities. For the first time in its history, ALL the children on the list were sponsored. HNHBH dearly hopes this trend will continue, but needs ongoing support. According to the volunteers, knowing that the efforts they put forth in order to provide the joy a local child or senior receives during the holidays, who would otherwise go without, is the greatest gift of all. It is the true spirit of the season.

To sign up to be a family sponsor, make a financial donation, to help us this Fall, or to learn more about the organization please visit www.holidaybasketsvt.org.


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