December 16, 2013


Marathon spreads holiday cheer

More than 80 Christmas baskets given out to residents

MarathonJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Robert Kedenburg, right, thanks Shira Thomas Saturday at the senior apartments in Marathon during the village’s annual holiday gift bag distribution.

Staff Reporter

MARATHON — More than 80 hand-decorated bags designed by Marathon Elementary School students lined the tables in the Presbyterian Church on Park Street as people came early Saturday morning to pick up and deliver the Community Christmas Baskets to fellow Marathon residents.
The previous day, members of the community involved with the annual holiday tradition had spent hours putting together and organizing the baskets, filled with everything from Christmas cookies and greeting cards to fruits and tiny jars of the village’s signature maple syrup.
Early Saturday morning people came to pick them up for delivery to current and former residents.
One of the organizers, Corey Bliss, passed out bags to the 10 drivers that would be delivered to nursing homes and senior living complexes as far as East Freetown to let people know their fellow Marathonians are thinking about them this holiday season.
Though no one is sure exactly when the tradition started, Bliss said Marathon residents — from elementary school students to business owners — are involved in putting together the baskets and added their efforts should not be thought of as a random act of charity but instead as a deliberate act of appreciation.
“The baskets go to people who have lost a loved one or haven’t been out in the community ... to let them know we remember them,” Bliss said. “It’s not a bag of need. It’s something that says we’re thinking of you.”
When Cindy Gray and her daughter Shira Thomas arrived at the church, they were responsible for delivering 17 of the baskets to the Galatia Street Senior Apartments at 37 Galatia St. in the village.
The duo was all smiles as they walked into the church wearing matching pairs of foam antlers with tiny bells attached to them. Both said they were looking forward to making the deliveries if not only to spend quality time with each other but to share holiday joy with residents as well.
“We do this as a family thing every year, sort of mother-daughter bonding time,” Thomas said.
“If there’s anything negative going on in the Christmas season, it picks us up,” Gray said. “You see the smiles on their faces and it makes you feel good.”
Once they arrived at the apartments just before 9:30, Gray and Thomas began making their rounds, going door to door delivering baskets to residents patiently awaiting their arrival.
One recipient, Robert Kedenburg, 94, said he considers himself a “longtime recipient” of the community baskets and said his favorite part of the tradition — outside of the delicious holiday treats — was interacting with visitors.
“I enjoy it every year. I think it’s very thoughtful for the group to do this,” Kedenburg said. “It’s good to talk to people, kid around a little. I want to say my heartfelt thanks.”
Back at the church, another organizer, Charlene Hill, told the story of how she delivered a basket to someone one year who had recently lost a member of his family and did not quite understand why he was receiving a basket.
Hill’s response is an embodiment of a decades-old tradition that’s not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon.
“He said, ‘I don’t deserve this’’, and I told him, “You’ve had a hard time and the community is behind you,’” Hill said. “So that’s what we’re trying to do.”


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