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Operation Santa Claus Looking for "Elves"

November 18, 2009

CONCORD, N. H. - They're making a list and checking it twice. "Operation Santa Claus" is in full swing and on the lookout for more elves. The program, which was started by the State Employees Association of New Hampshire (SEA) almost 50 years ago, provides Christmas gifts for thousands of the state's neediest children.

This year, the number of kids on the gift list is higher than ever. As with many charitable groups, says Terri Wright, SEA's education and training coordinator in Concord, the union has noticed fewer donations at the same time the number of people needing help is on the rise.

"We desperately need people -- families who are willing to sponsor a child, or a family of children -- getting them some gifts for the holidays so that they do not have a stark Christmas."

Laurie Aucoin, committee chair for Operation Santa Claus, says gifts are needed for children, from infants to age 18. They look for everything from winter clothing to board games, but this year, she's seeing more requests for gift cards to cover some families' basic necessities.

"Gift cards to grocery stores and gas cards for medical appointments -- the kids this year are asking more for things that would be related to helping out the family than they are in thinking about their own needs."

Wright says volunteers are also needed at the Operation Santa Claus headquarters, 11 Stickney Avenue, Concord. It is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The deadline for gift donations is December 4. New Hampshire National Guard members will deliver them on December 14 and 15. More details are available online at www.seiu1984.org or by phone, 603-271-6530.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH