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Residents open hearts to those in need


Toys for Tots, Catholic Charities among agencies aided



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Southbridge Savings Bank makes a presentation of gifts to Marines Norman Sampson, Ken Julien, George Berry and Sibby Cipro at the Southbridge Savings Bank Main Branch Friday, Dec. 10. (click for larger version)
December 13, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Despite the recession, residents of Southbridge and the surrounding towns are being more generous than ever with local charities.

More and more needy families have been added to lists with the hope of support for local charities the past two years, but according to Southbridge organizers of Toys for Tots — a national drive by U.S. Marine Corps Reserve — and Catholic Charities, more people are donating than ever before.

James Sottile, organizer of Southbridge's Toys for Tots program, said while individuals might be donating less cash than in year's past, more people than ever are donating, which results in more money being raised despite the smaller amounts.

For the past five years, Toys for Tots of Southbridge has collected around 3,000 toys and $10,000 each year. They are expected to bring in more than ever this year. More than 100 toys were collected on Friday, Dec. 10 alone.

Catholic Charities is going beyond just toys during the holiday season. Between October and March, free winter coats and blankets are given out. They also run a food pantry and clothes boutique, where each clothes item is $1 and people are given four free items each season.

"One gentleman called up and asked to sponsor a family for Christmas," said Catholic Charities organizer Lisa Genest, as she explained her most encouraging story. "I had two families left and both were really in need. I couldn't decide, so I explained both of their situations and asked him to pick. He paused to think about it for a little bit, sighed, and said, 'both.' It was just a great example of wonderful selflessness."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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