2017-11-29 / Front Page

Bath church collecting gifts for families

BY NATHAN STROUT
Times Record Staff


LAST YEAR, volunteers with the Bath United Methodist Church gathered in the parking lot of Bath City Hall to collect gifts to send to families in need in western Maine. This year, the church will be collecting donations on Dec. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / IRVING OUELLETTE LAST YEAR, volunteers with the Bath United Methodist Church gathered in the parking lot of Bath City Hall to collect gifts to send to families in need in western Maine. This year, the church will be collecting donations on Dec. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / IRVING OUELLETTE BATH

With Christmas just around the corner, Bath United Methodist Church volunteers are gathering presents to make a gift-giving Christmas possible for underprivileged families in western Maine.

“Different community groups, churches from around New England support the (United Methodist) Economic Ministry, which is up in western Maine, what we’d call the Appalachian Region,” said Irving Ouellette, a volunteer with the church. “There’s a ministry up there in a huge building — they call it the Salem Mall.”

This is the church’s eighth year taking part in the ministry, according to Oullette. The church reaches out to other area churches, businesses and community members annually to collect presents for families in need to select and give to each other on Christmas.

“At Christmas time, they set up this big room with gifts that are collected mostly by churches, including the Bath United Methodist Church,” said Ouellette. “We collect them and take them up in a pickup, and they put these gifts out on huge tables.

“Then people in the community who are needy are invited to come, and they come a family at a time. The children can go through and pick a gift or two for a parent, and then parents can go through and pick a gift for the child,” he added. “Then they wrap it there and they take it home for Christmas.”

Last year, contributions from the Bath area helped provide gifts and food baskets to some 250 families in the Appalachian Region.

“It’s a way for local people to pitch in and help people right here in Maine who are on the margins,” said Ouellette.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, church volunteers will gather from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of City Hall to collect gifts to send to the Salem Mall. A list of acceptable items to purchase and donate can be found online at BathUMC.org. Gifts range from board games and dolls for kids to socks and postage stamps for adults.

For those unable to drop off items at the Dec. 9 event, a collection box has been set up at Bath United Methodist Church. Financial contributions are also accepted.

“Otherwise, for these families … there’s not a lot of extra money. You can’t just go buy a Tonka truck,” said Ouellette. “I think without (the Economic Ministry), it would be desperate there. Difficult.”

nstrout@timesrecord.com

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