The Wanderer - Mobile Edition
Clayton 'Doc' King Honored
By Marilou Newell
Dateline: December 18, 1959 - Baltimore - Event - Clayton King goes on a blind date that will change his life. On this momentous date, Clay met Veronica (or 'Roni' as she is known by family and friends). Little did they know this was the beginning of a journey that would change them forever.
Born in Orono, Maine, King's family migrated to New Bedford where he graduated from New Bedford High School. He then went on to study at Providence College (graduated in 1959) and finally at the University of Baltimore's School of Dentistry. He would be the first in his family to graduate from college. While at dentistry school, another student suggested that King go on a blind date with his girlfriend's friend. That was when and where Clay met Roni. Fortunately for them, they both agreed to the date, and the rest is history.
Clayton and Roni married and eventually settled in Mattapoisett, where they raised their children Mike, Kathy and Dan (besides his children, King has five grandchildren). Almost from the beginning when he opened his dental practice, Clay or 'Doc', as he became known, began giving back to the community.
King would spend the next fifty- plus years working as a dentist in Mattapoisett while also working tirelessly for the community that he loved. "Clay is a driver ... [developing] social events for couples at the Lions," said Chuck McCullough, a good friend and long-time associate from the Lions Club. Bill Calusine, a fellow Lion said, "No one is more deserving [of the award] than Clay." Calusine continued, "Besides pulling teeth ... he made numerous contributions to the community."
There apparently wasn't an event or community need in the area in which the Doc hasn't been involved. From membership on the committee that spearheaded a tri-town regional school district, to commercial endeavors with the development of an industrial park, to his participation in the Lions Club - in 1992, he was awarded the Melvin Jones Fellow in recognition of his commitment to serving the world community - to his involvement with the Knights of Columbus and the soup kitchen at the Puritan Church in New Bedford, King was there. He never rested if there was a need or community activity that could benefit the people of the area. And he managed all of this while being a dental professional, as well as a devoted husband and father.
On December 6, the Massachusetts House of Representatives honored King with a Certificate of Appreciation for his work in aiding, assisting, and being an asset in the community he served. He received his award at the Sippican Nursing Home, where he is recovering from a recent stroke. It is a statement of the love and appreciation from his family, friends, and his community that many were present when R. Tyler MacCallister, Chairman of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen, presented the award conferred on King. King was smiling.
Friends and family gathered around King as he received this acknowledgment of his work, his desire to be an example of what is possible, and his desire to improve the lives of those around him by simply doing all he could, all the time.
"I've never seen him without a smile on his face," said Barbara Saunders, who has worked with King at the soup kitchen at the Puritan Church in New Bedford. Donald Fleming said, "I've known him for fifty years!" and the fact that he was there to witness this award speaks volumes to King's positive influence. But it was his families' remembrances which struck the chord of what he truly means. His niece Beth Valliere said, "He is an amazing role model."
His son Mike said, "Sometimes he was paid with vegetables or fish if the people couldn't pay for their dental bills." He didn't turn anyone away.
By his side through it all has been his wife, Roni. Speaking on behalf of her husband, along with their daughter Kathy Goulart, they shared that he was the prime mover in establishing the annual Easter Egg Hunt at St. Anthony's, various art auctions and antique evaluations through the Lions Club, and numerous events through the Knights of Columbus. He himself is a past King Lion. Goulart said, "He's probably hung over 200,000 posters..." indicating his devotion to and marketing know-how of the community events he was so committed to over the years.
The outpouring of love and support King received is a measure of the man whose work for the community has been unceasing and outstanding for decades.
Bright Season Ahead for Grey Season
By Marilou Newell
You may not have heard of the folk/rock band 'Grey Season', but chances are you will in the future. Local musicians Ian Jones (ORR 2011) of Rochester and Ben Burns (ORR 2011) of Mattapoisett, along with their band mates, have been invited to record their first full-length album.
During a recent gig in Boston, where Jones and Burns are currently students at Berklee College of Music, they were noticed by Ben Grotto, a music producer affiliated with Levon Helms Studios in Woodstock, NY. Grotto suggested that the group meet with engineering recording great, Justin Guip, whose work has earned him a Grammy Award and who is also part of Helms Studios.
For the uninitiated, Levon Helms was a musician whose talents found him playing in the 1950's and 60's with such greats as Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan, just to name a few. In his later life, he settled into working with younger talented musicians by mentoring, instructing, and helping them mature in their craft. Also probably obscure to the average music listener are Bobby Grotto and Justin Guip. Grotto's curriculum vitae lists Aerosmith, The Dresden Dolls, and 2010 Producer of the Year at the Boston Music Awards, while Guip's contains being a three-time Grammy winning engineer.
Grey Season's musical style, as stated on their Facebook page, is a blend of 'Mother Folk and Father Rock'. When I spoke to Ian by phone recently, he was just beginning his busy day of classes, but his excitement over this opportunity came through loud and clear: "This is going to be huge for us!" He said the band was originally a trio that he and Burns spotted in Boston. Soon they joined the group, adding depth with bass and drums as well as other vocal talents all blending with Irish instruments and guitars, and producing a truly unique sound worthy of notice. Playing their original scores at venues around Boston, as well as the traditional street performances, the group has come together with soulful new combinations. It was this sound that perked the ears of Grotto. But even when opportunity knocks, there is a cost to pay.
The group has to raise some front money in order to accept the invitation-only recording date. An entry fee of $10,000 is needed by December 22. They are just north of half way there as they get the word out to their fans and supporters. The fee covers necessities such as studio costs, professional mixing, mastering, and duplication, which are all elements needed to bring a great sounding group to the masses. Their "Kickstart" fundraising is in full swing. To learn more, visit www.greyseasonmusic.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call Jones at 949-689-6676.
Diary of a Wimpy Gramma
This Mattapoisett Life
By Marilou Newell
Dear Diary, today I couldn't be brave any longer. Well, I really wasn't being that brave to begin with anyway, but today I caved in completely to my back pain. I didn't or couldn't sleep last night because I was miserable with pain. I'm not going to gloss over it and call it that euphemistic term 'discomfort'. Pain is pain. Period.
This latest round of muscle spasms sent from hell was not inspired by any overt activity like gardening the back forty, doing the clean-n-jerk with a 20 pound bag of dog food, or merely carrying a laundry basket. Nope, I just woke up one recent morning and noted a slight twinge. At that point, my Wonder Woman status was still in place. I shrugged it off and plowed through that day and subsequent days until this morning. Truth be told, by late in the day yesterday the graffiti was on the wall "prepare for the end of your comfortable existence".
Diary, you know I try to put on a strong face because I've dealt with so many inconvenient painful body parts over my 6-plus decades of walking the planet. Remember that time when I was a kid and thought I could remove a piece of string that had wrapped itself around the front wheel spokes of my bike as I was riding it? I recall it as if it were yesterday. First I removed my flip-flop and then I stuck my foot out trying to reach the flying end of the string with my prehensile toes - WRONG! Good thing I was only a short hobble away from home when my Einstein brain dreamed up that folly. My Mother was pretty angry with me for sticking my toes in the spokes. She couldn't seem to understand that I hadn't meant to hurt myself on purpose. It took the better part of the summer for my toes to recover. That was the end of wearing flip-flops for that year.
And then remember that time my sister was riding me on the back of her bike when my right ankle connected with the rear spokes and tore it open. Oh good gawd almighty - remember. My Father carried me into the Doctor's office a block away and held me down while the fiendish doctor sewed it back together with thick black cat-gut sutures. You'd think I would have forgotten it by now, but I think my screaming is still making its way back from Jupiter.
Then there was the jumping off of stone pillars at Tabor Field and wrecking my knees. I learned to enjoy the fizzle of peroxide on raw open wounds. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Later on there was the three-week recovery from the tonsillectomy I had at age 28, the wisdom teeth I had removed, one a year for four years consecutive years between the ages of 30 and 34. But probably the piece de resistance of my pain experience was having a child. It is said that women forget that pain. Methinks that is a misnomer of monumental proportions.
When I was a kid, I cried when I hurt. Now I just get angry. I've got things to do, places to go, people to talk to ... the world needs me. Alas, with back spasms I'm not going too far too soon for sure. Yeah, I'm disappointed the world has kept on turning in my absence. As is said when language fails, those that appreciate it and those that don't, 'it is what it is'. Give me strength.
With unrelenting pain hammering away, I called my orthopedic doctor. I really like him, for years, so approachable, so willing to take the time to explain things. He has always been kind, sensitive and able to fix my aching back and other parts with therapy, heat and drugs. But not today. Today when I amazingly got him on the phone at 8:00 am on a Sunday morning and after apologizing for troubling him at this time, and after explaining I just wanted some pharmaceutical relief until I could be seen in the office on Monday - he said no. He said, "I can't help you without a full work-up, it wouldn't be good medical practice for me to order anything for you without me or another doctor seeing you first - go to the ER and get the process started. Sorry." Sorry, SORRY! Are you freaking kidding me? But all I said was a wimpy, "OK."
Going to the ER on a weekday is bad enough, but going on a weekend should only be attempted if you need life support equipment, you're bleeding profusely, or drunk out of your mind and don't know any better, "escus meee, sarry, escus me, I tink I hert myiiii toe..."
As I tried to find a semi-acceptable position for my fanny, legs and feet that wouldn't cause the back muscles to sing in unison 'nanna, nanna, nanna' I assessed my other options. I could try some of the expired pain medications I found at the bottom of the medicine cabinet. After speaking with a pharmacist over the phone, that didn't seem like a wise option. Maybe I could just tough it out until Monday, but there weren't any guarantees I could get an appointment. Most likely the receptionist would simply tell me to go to the ER. Maybe I should try the local walk-in where I'd had great luck getting good care for poison ivy and a sinus infection. I had nothing to lose except pain. I rolled the dice.
So with my loving husband as the wheelman, off we went in search of relief. Mercifully, I didn't have to wait long and soon was ushered into the room where hope springs eternal for those seeking solutions.
When the doctor entered the room a mere ten minutes later, I couldn't believe my eyes: she was about my age, she was short like me, she smiled a warm motherly smile, I wouldn't feel like Grandma Moses - yippee. She took a moment to read the notes on why I was there, and then she turned her lovely liquid brown eyes on me and said, "I understand your pain, I suffer from back spasms, too." Cherubim and seraphim and other celestial spirits fluttered about her tiny shoulders. "Let's see how I can help you today."
She gave me a brief examination including the obligatory getting on the examining table. I didn't care how much getting up on the table hurt, she was there to help me, she said so, and she did. We exchanged bad back experiences, including what has worked best for me in the past. I loved her, truly loved her, and in my weakened state nearly said so. I decided she might think I was more than just a wimpy Gramma, perhaps some sort of nut case negating my chances of receiving opiates, so I bit my tongue.
I'm home now, Diary, a mere two hours later. Not bad. Had I gone to the ER as suggested by Doctor-Its-Sunday-Morning-Why-Are-You-Bothering-Me, I'd still be there. Instead, I received just the right care and treatment. Dare I say for the right price as far as my insurance provider is concerned? I'll follow-up and make an appointment with my ortho doc, got to keep him on hand for who knows what in the future of this aging body. But I also want to let him know that I found a doctor who gave me the right care in a timely, cost-effective manner - why hadn't he thought of that?
Why hadn't he suggested a walk-in clinic? I'm a witness that urgent care can work well to help stem the tide of rising health care while providing competent care, but unless you have cash, you better have insurance. That, dear Diary, is a story for another day.
Deep Roots in the Community
Mattapoisett's Agriculture Commission
By Marilou Newell
Mattapoisett's roots in the shipbuilding industry are rich and well documented. But take a short trip through the town's history, through the local museum, or up Acushnet or River Roads, and you'll find plenty of evidence that agriculture was once a necessary and important part of daily life for this seacoast community.
Looking back, Mattapoisett's history blends coastal activities, like fishing and boatbuilding, with farming, just a few miles away, which supported it all. Without farming, the population would not have been able to feed its growing population. Today, Mattapoisett's farming community is a tiny fragment of what it once was. Yet there are community members who are working to keep the historic farming activities alive and well.
The Nunes and Randall families are two of several in Mattapoisett whose interest in agricultural pursuits runs deep in the bloodlines. The families have several members on Mattapoisett 's Agricultural Commission. Their desire to preserve farming and agricultural pursuits in Mattapoisett stems from generations of devotion to the land and commitment to a farming heritage.
The Massachusetts State website answers the following questions about agricultural commissions: What is an Agricultural Commission (AgCom)? A town agricultural commission (AgCom) is a standing committee of town government, created through a vote of Town Meeting and appointed by the Board of Selectmen or governing body of the town. AgComs represent the farming community, encourage the pursuit of agriculture, promote agricultural economic development and protect farmlands and farm businesses, and preserve, revitalize and sustain agricultural businesses and land. In some communities they focus on farmland preservation efforts, while in others they review regulatory proposals developed by other town boards (planning board, board of health, conservation commission, etc), or provide marketing coordination to assist all farms in town. Others have played key roles in mediating farmer/neighbor disputes, or simply providing referrals for farmers needing better information. By working within town government through an AgCom, farmers enhance their credibility, and are viewed as part of the problem-solving team. What does an AgCom do? Serves as a local voice advocating for farmers, farm businesses and farm interests, provides visibility for farming, works with other town boards about issues facing the town that affect agriculture, helps resolve farm related problems or conflicts, protects farmland and natural resources. Who can start an AgCom? Any local resident or group concerned about their communities' farming, farm businesses, growth, rural character, open space, etc. can start organizing support for an AgCom. Why are town AgComs formed? Many towns trying to balance growth and quality of life issues are creating AgComs. The intent of an AgCom is simple: protect agricultural lands, preserve rural character, provide a voice for farmers, and encourage agricultural based businesses.
The Mattapoisett's Agricultural Commission is committed to all of those elements. Bob Spooner, one of the Chairmen of the commission, said, "We want to preserve the heritage of farming in Mattapoisett." There have also been instances where the commission has been able to successfully mediate the interests of residents and abutting farmers. Spooner shared the story of a farmer who was fighting an endless battle with crows in his cornfield by using explosive discharges from early morning until evening. Residents at their wits end were able to reach a compromise with the aid of the Agricultural Commission.
As the Mattapoisett Agricultural Commission continues to scope out just how they will impact the local farming community, board members - Chairman Bob Spooner, Cheryl Randall, Shi Major, George Randall, Jess Collier, Gerald Randall, and Pierce Randall, many of whom have backgrounds in farming - will continue to partner with other boards and commissions in town to assist in maintaining a farming culture before it is lost to future generations.
The commission members receive some limited financial support from the residents through a vote at Town Meeting. The State Regulations state: Each town should decide what is an appropriate budget for the AgCom. Existing AgCom budgets range from $0 to $1,000 per year.
Massachusetts regulations also note: Unlike some other town committees, AgComs do not operate under regulatory authority from the Commonwealth. While town conservation commissions implement the State Wetlands Protection Act and planning boards enforce the local zoning code, AgComs are created at Town Meeting to represent farming interests in the town - but they do not have any legal mandate or enforcement authority.
Additional details for Agricultural Commissions as noted on the state's website also include: adopting local right-to-farm by-laws, raising monies for farmland protection and economic development, starting local farmer's market, providing mediation and conflict resolution on farm related disputes within town, collaborating with other town boards on development proposals, educating town residents about the value of agriculture in the community, holding educational workshops on intergenerational transfer of property, Chapter 61 lands, farm viability, agricultural preservation restrictions, and obtaining technical assistance on nonpoint source pollution, conservation farm planning, manure management, and environmental stewardship.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Agricultural Commission is February 1 at 7:00 pm. All are welcome to come and learn more about the farming history in Mattapoisett.
Safety and Testing Highlighted
Mattapoisett School Committee
By Marilou Newell
Chief Mary Lyons of the Mattapoisett Police Department met with the members of the Mattapoisett School Committee to outline plans for the implementation of ALICE, a new emergency safety program for schools. Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Escape is the cornerstone of an evolving plan that allows teachers and students to make some decisions based on the threat and emergency they are facing. She noted that during the Newtown tragedy, several students had the presence of mind to escape when it was clear they could do so safely. Lyons said, "This gives people the option to think on their feet, make common-sense decisions and possibly escape....versus just lockdown." The program will be tailored for each school, taking into consideration such things as the age of the children involved. Member James Muse asked if better surveillance equipment might also be an option. Lyons concurred that that would be helpful as well. A full roll out in all schools is planned by Fall 2014, coinciding with the new school year. Interested parties wanting more information can visit www.alicetraining.com.
The other highlight of the monthly meeting was a conversation about uniform assessment testing. Last year, a new type of evaluation protocol, PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) began a pilot program in Mattapoisett schools.
Currently, there are 18 states utilizing this program for K - 12. Their website states: "These new K-12 assessments will build a pathway to college and career readiness by the end of high school, mark students' progress toward this goal from 3rd grade up, and provide teachers with timely information to inform instruction and provide student support." A multi-million dollar grant was given by the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top assessment competition to support the development and design of a new assessment system. Massachusetts is considering whether this program or the currently-in-place MCAS should be used.
Superintendent White said, "All schools will take the ELA portion." He went on to say, "This is a pilot program...the state will make a final decision to replace MCAS with PARCC in two years." He noted that the drawback right now is that schools are not receiving any information on how their children are doing on the tests taken, but if the state moves to this program for evaluative assessment, then individual test data will be shared. He noted another drawback as well.
White said that if the state moves to PARCC, there won't be any historical data on students' successes or needs because it will be new, whereas all schools have data with the MCAS program now.
Committee Member James Muse questioned the wisdom of increased testing and less teaching, believing it negatively impacted the students. He acknowledged that schools get data but that it does nothing for the individual student. "It's just data," he said. He then went on to say that all the testing is not a teaching tool and questioned the benefit to the student. "If we are just testing, then not much teaching is taking place," he concluded.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Elise Frangos, explained how they presently use test results from the Galileo needs assessment that help teachers focus on the individual needs of students. Those tests are taken in September and again in December. There had been plans to do them again in May to get a full year's worth of evaluation, but they have pulled back from that plan given the insertion of the PARCC testing in the school year. She also said they are presently prioritizing on MCAS.
White said that if the state selects PARCC, they will do so only if it is as good as, or better than, MCAS, and they plan on keeping the committee informed as more information is available.
On a lighter and merrier note, Principal Bowman invited all to attend the annual gala holiday presentation at Center School this year titled 'Melton, the Warm-Hearted Snowman' on December 19 at 9:30 am.
Overdue Lunch Fees Discussed in Marion
Marion School Committee
By Joan Hartnett-Barry
All children are entitled to lunch, even if they can't pay for it. Overdue lunch fees for 62 students who owe a total of $760 were discussed by the Marion School Committee on Wednesday evening. Of the 389 students who purchase school lunches, 327 students have positive account balances while 62 students have negative balances. Reminders to pay overdue balances will be sent to parents who are behind in payments for school lunches.
Schools in Massachusetts have been following a set of guidelines since 2012 which spell out the nutrition standards for foods and beverages. The goal, according to Food Services Director Caitlin Meagher, is to improve the health of children by promoting the availability of snacks that are rich in whole grains or protein, in addition to low-fat dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.
Principal Evelyn Rivet provided her report and noted that over 25 large boxes of food were donated to the Damien Food Pantry. The collection was the combined effort of the Student Council and others. Rivet thanked Ms. McKeen and her third grad class for leading the charge to stock the pantry.
First trimester grades have closed and report cards will be issued to grades 1 - 6 on December 9. Current enrollment is 456 students and attendance is at 98%.
Volunteers at Sippican School (VASE) coordinated a sixth-grade field trip to the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford where students attended a solo performance of "Through the Eyes of a Friend: The World of Anne Frank", sponsored by the Zeiterion Theater. According to Rivet, students described the performance as "different, emotional, and very sad."
Facilities Director Gene Jones reported that the interior and exterior light upgrade at Sippican Elementary is completed. Jones also noted that he is conducting an energy envelope with NSTAR and will have the boiler room insulation redone to maximize heat efficiency. The emergency generator upgrade for code compliancy is completed and fully operational.
In other business, the committee, along with school administrators, is beginning the fiscal year 2015 budget process. A budget subcommittee will meet on a regular basis to work on the process.
Covanta Site Plan Approved
Rochester Planning Board
By Nick Walecka
After months with continued open hearings, the Planning Board finally approved a Site Plan Review for a CNG (condensed natural gas) fueling station on Cranberry Highway for Covanta Clean Energy.
Board Chairman Arnold Johnson said that after a long period of "back-and-forth" between Covanta representatives and himself, Rochester engineer Kenny Motta, Town Counsel Blair Bailey, and Board Administrator Patrice LaForest, the Board was ready to vote on a motion to approve the Site Plan Review, which contains documents and drawings required to ensure that construction plans are in accordance with town and state statutes.
It was approved unanimously.
"I believe that we have everything from the applicant," said Johnson about Covanta, noting that there were a series of conditions added and subtracted from the original plans over the past few months, but the Board agreed that they finally had all the details ironed out between all parties involved.
Covanta representatives said that a construction date has not yet been set as they still need to go through the state permitting process before ground can be broken, weather permitting.
In other news, Johnson said that the subcommittee for the search for a new Town Planner is meeting this Thursday, and he hopes that they will at least have a candidate by their next meeting in January.
Former Town Planner John Charbonneau stepped down from the part-time position in September to take a position in Raynham.
"Hopefully by the first meeting in February, we might have somebody on board," said Johnson.
ALICE Arrives in Rochester
Rochester School Committee
By Nick Waleka
The Rochester Memorial School Committee is on board with ALICE, a training program to be used across the Tri-Towns which offers a "different way of approaching" a potential attack on their schools.
Chief Paul McGee was on hand at a recent Committee meeting to present ALICE (Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate), which he said includes a recent change in procedure that empowers teachers to evacuate their classrooms if they feel safe doing so.
In the past, teachers were advised to "lockdown" their rooms, which means to lock the doors and instruct their students to take cover in the classroom. Under the new training, however, they would be advised differently.
McGee said that it is the goal of the Rochester, Mattapoisett, and Marion Police Departments to have a uniform policy and subsequent training so that they would all be able to work together in case of an emergency situation at schools across the four districts within the Tri-Towns, including each of the towns and Old Colony.
"It's our vision to see a uniform evacuation and lockdown program across the Tri-Towns," said McGee. "It will be much more efficient if everyone is doing it the same way."
McGee said that the "Alert" portion of ALICE, where communication within the school is encouraged, will "make it easier" for teachers and faculty to make decisions about the "Evacuate" portion.
He also said that the "Counter" portion, where teachers, faculty, and students are instructed on how to defend themselves in a personal encounter with a shooter, would be different for high schools than it would be for elementary schools.
"[The program] has so many valuable components, and it is the best practice," said McGee. Officer Matthew McGraw and ORR Assistant Principal Michael Parker were also on hand in support of ALICE, and McGee noted that Rochester Officer Kevin Flynn has been specially trained in ALICE.
"It's my desire to give the teachers in the schools the best tools [for stopping an intruder]," said McGraw. "[We'll] start at HS and roll down to elementary schools."
The Committee also discussed PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing, in which RMS Grade 4 students will participate in the spring. The test, which is still in its pilot phase, takes place in two parts--a performance test and a year-end test.
The discussion revolved around whether or not students who participate in PARCC would also have to take the MCAS. Superintendent Douglas White recommended that those students also take the MCAS, as the PARCC results would not be released since the program is still in its pilot phase.
"I wouldn't recommend we opt out," said White. "We need the MCAS to help us."
ORR Teams Up with Toys for Tots
By Renae Reints
The holiday season has arrived in full-swing, and Old Rochester Regional is getting into the giving spirit. Toys for Tots is holding a collection at ORR High School for their second year, and they are asking for new, unwrapped toys for kids aged 0 to 12 years.
Heidi Graser, a science teacher at ORR, is the school's liaison to the Toys for Tots program. "My father runs the South Shore division of it," she said, adding, "It's been in my family for seven years ... Last year they moved their warehouse to Wareham and it just made sense, when looking at fundraisers, to think 'Why haven't we done this at the school, if I'm a direct contact and it's so easy to get kids involved?'"
It's true that the students of ORR have jumped at this opportunity. "We're decorating the lobby; we've made signs," said Graser, "Students are getting involved here."
Students also have the opportunity to volunteer at the warehouse, located in the storefront next to Bath and Body Works at Wareham Crossing. On Black Friday, a handful of students helped organize early donations. Since then, other groups of students have gone on the weekends to help out. "If students are willing to volunteer, I will gladly open up the place," said Graser.
Student volunteers mostly help with organization. "We get shipments of toys, and then we have to divide them up by gender and age so it's easier for us to grab the toys when we need them," Graser explained, "Sometimes big organizations come to us ... they might say 'we need toys for ten 5-year-old girls,' and they'll give us a list."
Graser said that it's nice to have student volunteers pick out the toys for donation because "teenagers know what kids want better than we do."
The last batch of toys will most likely be sent out on December 21, but Toys for Tots always accepts donations. Having toys at the end of the season "gives us a base point to start with for the organizations that want the toys early," says Graser. The collection box in ORR's lobby will be accessible until December 18, while additional donations can be given at the storefront warehouse in Wareham Crossing.
Each year, the number of donations for the older kids is much lower than what is needed. Toys for Tots remembers that every child deserves a gift on Christmas day, but they can only give what they receive. Graser said some ideas for donations for the older kids include makeup kits, art supplies, board games, sport supplies, books, or movies.
"We get a lot of Candyland," said Graser, noting that this is one of the challenges Toys for Tots faces. While it's great to receive these donations, they don't want to be unknowingly sending Candyland to the same child each year.
Still, with the help of local generosity, Toys for Tots manages to be an amazingly successful program. In this South Shore region, they collect 5,000 - 6,000 toys. These mostly go to families in Plymouth County, including children in the Tri-Town. The South Shore is a part of the Cape Cod division, which in total collects around 60,000 toys each year. This goes towards helping around 20,000 children have a happy holiday season.
For more information, contact the South Shore coordinator, Bob Graser. He may be reached at 774-454-4309 or email@example.com.
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