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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Holiday fund provides Christmas meals to those in need.

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POTSDAM — Bags filled with everything needed for a Christmas meal piled up on tables at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as volunteers prepared food baskets provided by the Potsdam Holiday Fund.

The food will be distributed to 320 families, the most ever helped by the fund. The previous record, 299, was set last year.

“The needs keep growing, unfortunately, but we’re happy that we can meet the need,” said Laura J. Cordts, who organizes the food distribution.

Each bag is packed with a turkey, stuffing, oranges, vegetables and other traditional Christmas dishes. They also include a food voucher, between $35 and $45 depending on the size of the family, to purchase perishables and other ingredients not found in the bag.

The 35 volunteers made short work of sorting the food and packing the bags on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday morning a fleet of 55 volunteers, fueled by coffee and donuts, will deliver the meals to families in nine St. Lawrence County towns.

They are counting on good weather, but the deliveries will be made in any conditions. Last year an ice storm closed schools, but the deliveries went on.

“We never cancel,” Ms. Cordts said.

Families applied for assistance through the Potsdam Holiday Fund through the fall. The fund also provides toys, books and clothes to children who may not receive any without assistance. Many live in poverty, Ms. Cordts said, and without help from the holiday fund they may not have a Christmas at all.

“For some of them it’s the difference between having something special for Christmas or not,” she said.

Several middle-school students with Interact, the Potsdam Rotary Club’s youth service group, worked to fill the bags on Friday.

“It lets them realize that their community is a living, functioning entity,” said Emily R. Brouwer, who supervises the Interact club.

“It’s always really fun to volunteer around here,” eighth-grader Emily E. Fecketter said.

IGA sold all of the food to the fund at cost. The Potsdam Food Co-op did the same with the ingredients for the 320 dozen Christmas cookies baked by culinary arts students at St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES.

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