The Clinton County Christmas Bureau now taking donations

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 12:00 PM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - The former Gander Mountain store at Champlain Centre in Plattsburgh has been transformed into one of Santa’s workshops. It’s the new seasonal home of the Clinton County Christmas Bureau.

“(It’s been) 50 years or so, it started out as a small group of women, a church group,” says Tammy Perrotte Sears, director of the Christmas Bureau. She says the nonprofit has been helping thousands of families in Clinton County smile on Christmas morning. “We’re all volunteers so everything we do no one gets paid to do it.”

Families looking for a little help getting gifts for the kids must apply at their town’s outreach offices by December 9th with a wish list ready. City residents can drop their applications off at the Salvation Army or at the Christmas Bureau. There is an income requirement and a family must have a child 16 or under.

The Christmas bureau offers up to five gifts per child and, on average, helps 700 to 900 families a year.

Sears has worked her way up in Santa’s North Country workshop since the early 90s, saying she always wanted to do good for her community. “I do it for the kids, for the spirit of the holiday, to keep Santa alive. It’s my favorite holiday so it comes easy,” she said.

All year long, these elves who call Clinton County home, shop for hot new toys, educational toys, arts and crafts, sporting equipment, and winter gear to stock the shelves at the bureau. Help also comes from people in the community looking to give back. “I am in awe sometimes on how much we can collect from the community,” Sears said, “and how giving the community is.”

Like the Plattsburgh Police Department, which brought a Uhaul filled with over $9,000 worth of toys to the bureau Thursday afternoon. Plattsburgh Police Corporal T.J. Rabideau is president of Plattsburgh Police Local 812, the departments union. He says this is the fifth year and their largest donation to the bureau. “Just one of those things where it’s a positive interaction with the community and one of those things that makes you feel good at the end of the day,” he said.

The toys come from local businesses’ monetary donations and thousands of dollars raised through the department’s bottle drive, which collects bottles and cans from community members to turn in for cash. “Through community support, we were able to get to this point,” Rabideau said.

The small gesture of kindness each year reminds the community of the true meaning of Christmas. “When you look around what is here, it’s all given from people who just want to help,” Sears said. “I think that is the most heartwarming.”

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