MORRISONVILLE - The tradition of helping underprivileged families during the holidays is one that continues each year at Morrisonville Rescue Squad.
Thirty families received Christmas dinner baskets just days before Christmas in what has become an annual donation from rescue squad members since 2005. Advanced critical care provider Melody Stevens, who coordinates the event each year, said the effort involves working with the Saranac Central School District and Town of Schuyler Falls office to identify potential families who would benefit from a Christmas dinner basket filled with hams, fruits and vegetables.
"It was all possible because of donations we got from the community," said Stevens, who credited a $250 donation from the Morrisonville Volunteer Fire Department for being among the major contributors.
Critical care provider Donna Bodette, who assisted Stevens with the effort, said the donations once again helped bring everything together for at least one complete meal for a family to have during the holidays.
"It included everything for the entire meal, so they really didn't have to go out and buy anything unless there was something really extra they wanted," she said.
The baskets even included homemade raspberry cakes made by Stevens and her daughter, Myra Graham.
"That took us two days," said Stevens. "Thank God for my daughter."
The number of families helped this year doubled from the previous year, said Bodette, which she attributed to an increased overall need in the community.
"We reached 15 extra families we didn't last year," she said. "I think we made a lot of people happy. And, it makes you feel good you can help."
Ed Salverson of Morrisonville was among those whose families received a basket from the rescue squad. Living on a fixed income with his wife and with the two of them raising their 9-year-old granddaughter, Salverson said getting a helping hand with something as simple as a Christmas dinner means a lot.
"I thought it was very good," Salverson said of the basket. "It actually came in handy but I also liked the personal touch with the homemade cakes. It was the first time I ever had a raspberry cake and it was pretty good."
Salverson also said he knows his is not the only family to appreciate the help from the rescue squad.
"I think a lot of people appreciated it, especially with the cost of fuel and heating oil and everything else this time of year," he said. "It's a good gesture."
Beverly Macey, also of Morrisonville, agreed.
"I think it's amazing that they help people that are in need," said Macey, whose family also received a basket. "It was great.
Everything you need to make a dinner was in there. It helped out a lot."
And, because of a seemingly ever-growing need in the community, helping people through Christmas dinner baskets is something Stevens hopes to do for years to come.
"I'd like to keep doing it as long as I can, as long as I'm able," she said. "Hopefully, next year, we can do 10 more and maybe hit 40."