Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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Jan. 13, 2006

County Workers Donate Loads of Gifts to School Children

OSWEGO -- A few days before area schools closed for their holiday break, nurses from schools throughout Oswego County could be seen driving away from the county health department's offices at 70 Bunner St. in Oswego, loaded down with brightly wrapped packages and colorful gift bags for needy children.

All told, county employees on Bunner Street and in the legislative office building at 46 E. Bridge St. provided gifts for 146 children in 13 area schools.

Staff members of the County Health Department, Office for the Aging, and Oswego City-County Youth Bureau have sponsored a giving tree for many years. The project was first organized by Sandy Butera, a health department employee who died in 2003. For the past few years, health department staff members Carolyn Miller and JoAnn Carr have contacted school nurses throughout the county and asked them to send gift requests for needy families. This year, the staff of the County Department of Promotion and Tourism on East Bridge Street asked others in their building to join in.

"It has been very important to our employees and our staff association to continue Sandy's efforts," said Kathleen Smith, Commissioner of Health Services. "The staff wanted to share their generosity with children who are in need across the county."

Nurses from Altmar, Parish and Williamstown elementary schools, A-P-W Middle School, Riley and Leighton elementary schools in Oswego, Oswego High School, Minetto Elementary, Granby Elementary, Fulton Junior High, Hastings-Mallory Elementary and Millard Hawk Primary in the Central Square district sent in requests on behalf of 146 children.

A visitor could barely walk through the maze of gifts that covered the space in Miller's office a few days before Christmas. "Most of these children did not ask for toys or games," said Miller. "They asked for things that we take for granted, like boots, winter jackets, personal hygiene items, socks and underwear."

Miller said that many employees went above and beyond to meet the children's requests.

"Many folks gave as if they were buying presents for their own children," she said. "We had several families make a project of choosing and wrapping gifts for the child on their name tag."

The gifts made Christmas a brighter holiday for the children as well as the county staff.

Christina Chamberlain, a nurse at Oswego High School, said her students "were very thankful and felt so special to be thought of. We wish you could have seen their faces when they received the packages."

The project "helped brighten the Christmas season" for many needy families at Granby Elementary School, said school nurse Lori Dempsey.

"It was a wonderful experience to see the joy on the faces of the nurses when they picked their gifts up," Miller added. "Once again, our county employees proved themselves to be very generous and willing to help out others in times of need."

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