DERRY — The Derry Village Rotary Club is helping spread cheer this season.
The club has taken on the wishes of those in need in the Greater Derry area and will donate about $14,000 worth of clothing, toys and other items to families through The Upper Room, Salvation Army and Derry Community Fund.
Club members spent a morning recently organizing the gifts to be distributed. Piles of coats, pajamas, sporting equipment, personal care items, toys, videos and watches filled a table at Simpson’s Painting on Rockingham Road where the collection work was being done.
“The groups gave us their wish lists,” Rotarian Jen Devlin said. “Then we went out and shopped.”
Devlin said this is the second year the club has taken on a major gift distribution effort, made possible through several major fundraisers during the year, including a charity golf tournament, spaghetti dinners, a comedy night and other events.
Area businesses like Sports Authority, Kohl’s and Best Buy also supported the club’s collection by giving discounts on clothing and other items.
“Without those stores, we couldn’t do this,” Rotarian Frank Parker said.
He said about 150 people would be helped this year, up from the 93 the Rotary club supported last year.
Many gifts were purchased to support teenagers, who are often overlooked during the holidays, Parker said.
“We focused a lot on them this year,” he said. “They need everything. When we met with the groups, they said that’s the segment that gets the least.”
Last month during the Derry holiday parade, Derry Village Rotary members walked the parade route for the annual food collection drive, another community effort that was very successful.
The club raised $1,500 and collected more than a ton of nonperishable food items. Parker said people are very generous.
“It was great to see people come out to help,” he said.
Rotarian Steve Dente said the club’s holiday donation work has grown.
“It’s a far cry from the days when we would have only 10 families to help and would fill baskets,” he said. “This gives them exactly what they need and it’s good stuff.”