BUCKFIELD — It looked like Christmas exploded inside the Buckfield selectmen’s meeting room the night of Dec. 14, with boxes and bags of toys, piles of hats and mittens, games galore, enough books to fill a large bookshelf and child-sized coats and boots.

“Welcome to Christmas,” Sarah Bly said with a smile.

It was bagging night for Operation Santa Claus.

The nonprofit organization helps babies to high schoolers have a brighter Christmas in Buckfield, Hartford and Sumner.

“The kids are going to have a great Christmas,” volunteer Eileen Hotham said. “It’s been pretty amazing this year that people have been so giving.”

Volunteers with the nonprofit made ornaments and stars with the 49 kids’ wish lists on them to place on two Christmas trees in Buckfield.


“We’re very lucky and very fortunate to have the Buck-It Bar and Grill in town,” Hotham said about of the Christmas tree locations, adding Northeast Bank also had a tree filled with children’s wish lists.

“They took so many and got rid of so many so quick, we got more,” Hotham said about the ornaments at the Buck-It, which the second time around listed hats, gloves and mittens.

Some people bought everything on the children’s wish lists, which allowed for the volunteers to round out Christmas gifts for those who didn’t ask for a lot or didn’t have everything on their list purchased for them.

Four women buzzed around the room, ticking off items on the wish lists and bagging up the goodies for the families to pick up.

And the women know most of the kids who will benefit from the communities’ generosity. Their excitement was palpable as if they were kids on Christmas morning opening presents themselves.

“He’s going to love it that Mine Craft Fortnight,” Kerrie Forget said about the popular video game.


“Yeah when I saw that I almost squealed. He didn’t ask for much,” Hotham said.

Forget works at the Hartford-Sumner Elementary School.

“You’re going to see them when they come in with their new boots and hats,” Bly said to Forget, grinning from ear to ear.

Operation Santa Claus became a nonprofit in 1995, when Stephanie Litchfield’s children were young. She was involved the first year, took a long hiatus, and returned this year to help out since her children are now grown.

“It’s time to give back. I concentrated on my children and I just decided it was time,” Litchfield said. “I do this at work [for the] Salvation Army. We take a kid’s name a group of us and I always buy. … Even though I am not putting money into it, it’s just nice to be able to do that.”

This is Forget’s first year with Operation Santa Claus and she joined the cause for similar reasons.

“My kids are older. They’re 16 and almost 18 and it was just another way for me to help give back to the community,” Forget said.

For more information on Operation Santa Claus, visit the nonprofit’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Operation-Santa-Claus-Buckfield-Hartford-Sumner-Maine-201372653296910/.

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