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Town of Brandon bands together to bring happy holidays to all

Published: Nov. 29, 2020 at 9:29 AM EST
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BRANDON Vt. (WCAX) - A town so invested in making sure everyone has a good holiday season, the whole community works together on over 13 projects to help everyone from kids, to veterans.

This week Elissa Borden took a ride down to Brandon to see what they’re doing with all of their holiday spirit.

There’s something special about Brandon.

“Brandon is just a really wonderful, giving community, I don’t know if it’s in the water, it’s the best municipal water supply in the state,” says recreation director Bill Moore. “The people here are just friendly, businesses are willing to step up and help out.”

And it’s never been more clear than during the holiday season.

I met with some community leaders this week, and was told about more than a dozen projects around town working to help kids, families, and veterans, too.

Allyson Brown runs operation Christmas for Troops... a program to send care packages to soldiers overseas.

“The holidays is a tough time for service men and women who are away from home and we’ve for the past two years really tried to target soldiers who are not receiving mail whether it’s lack of family or distance,” says Brown.

She says the show of support in past years has been overwhelming, with it growing each year, and most importantly, it gets kids involved.

This year, because of COVID restrictions, they’ll be working to provide local veterans with grocery gift cards.

Speaking of kids, the Brandon Area Toy Project helps ensure that they have a great Christmas, too.

“I think it’s important to try to make a best holiday season for everyone. Particularly this year with the pandemic and folks may be feeling a little down and unemployed, it’s nice to have those gifts under the tree,” says Patty Moore, who manages the program.

Community members can pick cards off of the tree at Brandon House Of Pizza and the National Bank of Middlebury with a child’s age and gender, and what they’d like for Christmas.

This year, there are around 160 kids signed up across 5 towns. The pick up this year will be a drive-thru style.

In a non-pandemic year, the BATP would also hold a Christmas Party. This year, that’s taking shape in the form of a reverse parade. The Reverse Parade will be on Sunday, Dec. 20, from 5 to 6 p.m. on High and Park streets in Brandon including stationery “floats’ and spectators will drive by.

“Overwhelmingly most of the things that the kids in this area really like are books and arts and crafts and board games, which is really great because we know our kids are reading in this area they’re being creative,” says Moore.

And that may have something to do with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which is also supported by the Toy Project.

“The literacy in town, especially pre-school age kids, really affects their reading ability through first and second grade. It’s really important to get started as early as possible,” says program head Kyle Hutchins.

Kids from birth to age 5 get a free book each month delivered to their house, funded by the Imagination Library. This program serves Brandon and Sudbury.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in Brandon.

All of the leaders I spoke with attributed the continued success of all of these campaigns to Colleen Wright, who oversees much of it and is an extremely active community member.

Some of the other projects in the area include the following list, provided by Colleen Wright:

Gifts Galore Kids Store: A Santa sale for kids to buy gifts for their family members. Prices range from 25 cents to $3. This year, it’s a video program instead of an in person shop.

Get Elf-d!: Encouraging excitement during tough times, this Secret Santa program involves signing up to give fun stuff in a drop off/doorstep manner. This encourages fun but also social distancing, so that kids can be separate but together.

Ho HO HO Satchels: Like Get Elf-d but for grown ups. Fun, and cheap ways to keep in touch.

Christa’s Totes: An honorary program named after Christa Quenneville Little, who passed after a long fight with breast cancer. She was an educator who was dedicated to feeding kids. For various vacations, Christa’s Totes will give our BATP families a tote bag of healthy groceries to keep the kids fed over school breaks. During COVID, we have amended this to be gift cards instead of totes of food.

In addition, the BATP also does a backpack giveaway in September as well as a winter coat giveaway in November.

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