RUMFORD – Mark Tripp said it’s bad whenever anyone is laid off from their job, but when it’s around Christmas, it’s even worse.

That is one reason why the 11 Local 1601 Rumford Fire Department union employees dug into their pockets this week to donate $220 for meals and other needs of NewPage Corp. workers who are on a layoff.

“We wanted to help our union brothers and sisters,” said Tripp, Local 1601 union president.

Gary Hemingway, president of Local 900, said the funds will be used to purchase additional holiday meals, if necessary, or to aid employees during any future layoffs.

He said earlier this week that his union donated more than $2,000 toward the purchase of holiday meals for out-of-work paper mill employees. About half the meals have already been distributed.

NewPage Corp. laid off about 250 people who work on the No. 15 paper machine, ground wood, long log, and in maintenance on Dec. 8.

All are expected to be back on the job in early January, according to the last statement issued by a mill spokesman.

Hemingway said calls have already begun going out to laid-off workers telling them of the date they are expected back at work. He said he was pleased with the generosity shown by the Rumford fire department firefighters.

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