We would like to thank the communities of the North Middlesex District for their overwhelming support and generosity this holiday season. The ninth annual Giving Tree Program at NMRHS was extremely successful, even with greater demand and the current economy.

The Giving Tree is a charitable program that provides holiday gifts for children enrolled in foster care through DCF and for those struggling families in our local schools. The children are asked what they want for the holidays, and these requests are then placed on tags for North Middlesex community members to take and purchase.

In addition to gifts for kids, the Giving Tree provides necessities for residents at the Pepperell Senior Center and Ginny's Helping Hand in Leominster, a women's shelter.

We also gather food baskets for local families and raise money for fuel assistance programs and Heifer Project International.

This year, thanks to the great fundraisers NM Unplugged, Bag-2-School, Equal Exchange, Mr. NM and the generous donations from local business and members in our community, we were able to raise nearly $6,000. A special thanks to the Deluxe Corporation for donating $1,000, to McNabb's Pharmacy for donating $500, to the Community Church in Pepperell for donating $250 and to the Wal-Mart Corporation for donating $750 this year.

For the ninth year in a row, the generosity and compassion displayed by our community was astounding. These towns are filled with ordinary people, who went above and beyond their responsibilities and often far out of their way to buy presents for people they had never and would never meet. They did not see the faces of the children opening their presents and they could not shake the hands of the struggling parents who were able to breathe, knowing that there would be something beneath the tree for their children on Christmas. These community members gave, knowing all they would receive in return would be the satisfaction of giving. For hundreds of people, this was enough.

Early in October, 300 children made humble wishes. Christmas morning, 1,697 of those wishes were granted, thanks to everyone involved in this event. But that's not all: 10 food baskets and 20 boxes of supplemental food and hygiene products helped families eat well over the holidays, $710 in fuel assistance will warm homes this winter, 45 shelter and senior center residents are beating the chill with cold-weather essentials and $160 is helping families all over the world become self-sufficient through Heifer International.

As the student coordinators and teaching advisor of this program, we owe our community our sincere thanks. Due to your kindness and support, children and families across our community had a happier holiday season.

ELIZABETH PALMER, Student Coordinator

SAMANTHA LIBONATE, Student Coordinator

MATHEW WHITE,

Student Coordinator

DANIELLE CROUSE, Student Coordinator

CALEB CHEW,

Student Coordinator

RAYMOND KANE,

Faculty Advisor