By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – Many people feel at least a little anxiety about their finances during the December holidays. But for some families, the daily stress of trying to pay for just the necessities of life often means there is no money left to purchase holiday gifts for their children.
In Westborough, two organizations – Westborough Youth and Family Services (WYFS) and the Westborough Rotary Club – are helping to ease that burden. Throughout the month of December, the two groups are once again co-sponsoring a free Holiday Store for local families in need.
The store, which is located in the Forbes Municipal Building auditorium, is stocked with gifts that have been donated by private citizens, and local companies.
John Badenhausen, the director of the WYFS, said in 2010 the Holiday Store provided gifts for nearly 90 families – approximately 225 children. He feels the numbers will be even higher this year.
“There are still a lot of families struggling, even in a town like Westborough,” he said. “We are seeing job loss and “underemployment” linked to depression. The financial stress is really impacting a lot of people in town.”
Throughout the year, the WYFS office provides counseling to residents who are struggling to cope with stress; it also provides referrals for more difficult situations. The organization also sponsors events, such as the annual Depression Screening Day, a Red Cross certified babysitting course and the youth program “Hot Summer Nights.”
Gerry Gross, a Rotary Club member, said the WYFS and Rotary have partnered to support the Holiday Store for a number of years after taking over a Toys for Tots program.
“The Rotary is a great organization,” he said. “So many people have really stepped up to help us run [the Holiday Store].
“Milt Steen stores the presents [at the U-stor Self Storage, Inc. in Westborough] until they are brought to the Forbes building. And there is a group at the Willows retirement community that makes hats and mittens. Those items always go fast,” he noted. “Local Girl Scouts help out with decorations and organizing the gifts at the store.”
Roche Bros. also provides discounts for food that the Rotary gives families for Christmas dinners, he added.
“This is America at its finest,” he said, of the many organizations and private citizens who donate to the Holiday Store's success. “Everyone works well together.”
Badenhausen noted that the WYFS is accepting gifts until Thursday, Dec. 22. Suggested gifts include building sets, dolls, trucks, craft and science kits, or books. There is also a need for items for teenagers, such as gift cards to stores such as Target or Walmart.
Monetary donations are also appreciated. Checks should be made out to the Rotary Club of Westborough and a notation made that it's for the Holiday Store. New and “gently-used” winter coats are being accepted, as well.
Donations may be dropped off at the WYFS office at the Forbes Municipal Building, 45 West Main St., Room 21, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. to noon. Other drop-off locations include the Boston Sports Club (1500 Union St., in the Bay State Commons), the Westborough Public Library, and the Westborough Fire Station.
For more information or to make a Holiday Store appointment call 508-366- 3090 or email [email protected].
All shopping appointments are confidential. Proof of residency, such as a driver's license, utility bill, or tax bill is required. Residents already receiving gifts from another giving program such as the Interfaith Giving Tree through the local churches, are not eligible.