LEWISTON— The Trinity Jubilee Center at 247 Bates St. held Christmas celebrations Friday and Saturday, nearly a week after wrapping its annual Holiday Wishlist Project.

The Holiday Wishlist Project connects staff and volunteers with managers of various local businesses who are aware of employees having a hard year and who will not ask for help, said Erin Reed, center director. Gifts are then delivered to families by donor “elves.”

Friday afternoon, guests were treated to a ham or beef dinner with mashed potatoes, butternut squash and carrots. Everyone received a gift bag with items like gloves, ChapStick, lotion, candy, hot chocolate, tea and an orange.

Since Catholic Charities sent a carload of gifts for the second year in a row, the center continued handing out toys as children came through the line during Saturday morning’s soup kitchen. Reed said the center was going to put the toys in storage for a “Christmas in July” giveaway, but staff and employees wanted to continue in the Christmas spirit since this year, particularly this past week, was difficult for so many.

“The schools were closed this week after the storm, plus next week is school vacation,” Reed said. “For some kids a ‘no school day’ means a day without the meals they get to eat at school. They’ve been waiting in our Soup Kitchen line every day to get a hot lunch. Yesterday and today, they got a good meal plus a chance to pick out a brand-new toy!”

Even after the soup kitchen closed Saturday, day shelter manager Tonya Sands and staff member Cassandra Culleton, along with several others, were managing operations and moving products in the center’s basement kitchen as people lounged inside where it was warm.


Sands has been at her job for six years connecting with people and making sure they are getting the services they need like case managers, someone to help them find housing, helping with job applications and resumes, handing out donations and more.

“I love my job,” Sands said. “It can be a lot. It can be emotional, but this is my community. I was born and raised here and some of the people I’m helping are people who I grew up with and went to school with. It’s really nice to be able to help …. It’s nice to be the light in somebody’s darkest times.”

The Christmas celebration is a lot of work for the center’s staff, and workers like Sands wear many hats; if it wasn’t for the many volunteers the center gets, special events and even the day-to-day would not be possible, she said.

Sands said 16-year-old Emma Frumiento was particularly good at pulling together good gifts for kids of certain ages and made handing them out run smoothly as people were served dinner.

Saturday was Frumiento’s first day ever volunteering, according to the Hebron Academy junior. She said volunteering was neither required by school nor by family— she said she just wanted to find a place to spend some time making other peoples’ Christmas a better one.

“My mom volunteers down here some days and she recommended that I come here,” Frumiento said. “Another girl, Seneca, and I were having fun making the gift bags for kids coming through the kitchen …. It’s a good feeling.”


Fellow volunteer Casey Pomerleau started at the center in early April. She said she once needed services like those offered at the center, so she wants to pay it forward whenever she can. Fortunately, these days Pomerleau finds herself with the means to volunteer four to five times a week, she said. On Saturday, she spent most of her time serving food, bringing frozen products in and decorating.

“Sometimes I got those services and sometimes I didn’t,” Pomerleau said. “And I always love seeing kids get gifts …. I like to help and make sure people in need get what they need.”

“And she is one of the best,” said Culleton. “We have the best volunteers. Period.”

Daryn Slover contributed to this story.

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