Program Summary

The Potsdam Holiday Fund, Inc. provides new toys, clothing, boots and food to families and senior citizens in need in the Potsdam area. The Potsdam Holiday Fund, Inc. is a 501 ( c ) 3 organization; thus contributions to the fund are tax deductible as allowed by the IRS.

Who Benefits:
Last year we served over 300 needy families with more than 500 children as well as 100 senior citizens in the Potsdam area.

Communities We Serve:
Generally we serve families in these communities: Potsdam, Madrid, Hopkinton, Nicholville, Brasher Falls, Chase Mills, Fort Jackson, West Stockholm and Winthrop.

How We "Find" These Needy Families:
We advertise in the local media and on the campuses that applications for assistance are available. (College students with children are eligible to apply.) Families are required to fill out an application for the program to show that they are in need, in order to avoid abuse of the program. We use the income guidelines established by the Potsdam Neighborhood Center.

How We Get Funding:
Nearly all of our money is raised through a direct-mail solicitation mailed to Potsdam residents in October. We are also the primary beneficiary of the Hobble Gobble Prediction Run-Walk, coordinated by Derry Loucks and held in November each year. In 2012 the Potsdam Holiday Fund raised a total of about $54,000. Also, local businesses such as the IGA sells "Holiday Happiness" tags for $1 that are personalized by the donor and displayed at the store. Our cost to raise a dollar is about five cents.

How We Spend It:

  1. Usually we spend about $15,000 on food basket items that we purchase. Also in their food basket is a voucher (gift certificate) to be used to buy food at a local grocery store, the amount depending on the size of the family ($35-$45). Senior citizens also receive food/fruit baskets. The Potsdam Rotary Club coordinates the food basket program.
  2. We give out vouchers for a local department store. In 2011, the vouchers were redeemable at Walmart in Potsdam. Parents can spend up to $50 per child on warm winter clothing.
  3. We sometimes buy new toys and other gifts as needed.

NOTE: The Holiday Fund is run entirely by Volunteers! The only "Administrative Cost" we have is the cost of our maillings.

Other Gifts for the Children:
About 48 local businesses (many restaurants) set up Giving Trees with tags labeled for boys and girls ages 1 to 17. People pick off tags, buy a gift, wrap it and put it back under the tree. Each year we collect about 1,000 gifts from Giving Trees. The Potsdam Kiwanis Club coordinates the Giving Tree program. In addition, we receive many toys from the Toys for Tots program in St. Lawrence County, coordinated by Ray Cutway of Ogdensburg.

How We Distribute the Toys and Food:

  • Toys: Once we decide who is eligible to participate, we set up appointments for the parents to come to the church to pick out their children’s gifts. We call this “Santa’s Workshop.” All of the gifts are set on tables in the basement of the Methodist Church in Potsdam, and volunteer "elves" help parents find the right gifts. We also give them vouchers if they still need boots or jackets.
  • Food: Families and senior citizens may pick up their baskets in Potsdam, or we have volunteers who deliver to homes that day if the family can’t make it into town.

Schedule of Volunteer Sessions:

  • December 9, 10 and 11 - Wrap Sessions at the Methodist Church in Potsdam - 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
  • December 13 and 14 - Santa's Workshop - Families come to the Methodist Church to pick out toys with the help of our volunteer "Elves" - 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • December 18 - Food Baskets are delivered or picked up at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Castle Drive in Potsdam - 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

For more information, contact:
Pam Yurgartis, Holiday Fund President, at pamyurgartis@gmail.com or (315) 261-9887
or
Nancy Griffin, Member of the Holiday Fund Board at griffine@potsdam.edu