How Christmas Wishes Come True in Cherryfield 

by | Nov 10, 2022 | News

While kids are still sorting through their candy haul from Halloween, the Mission’s Downeast Campus is already ready for another holiday: Christmas. Weald Bethel Community Center becomes the DeFacto North Pole when the calendar flips to November, with the elves sorting and packaging presents that will go to recipients throughout Washington and Hancock Counties.  

Weald Bethel set up for Christmas

In 2021, the Mission’s elves, led by Stephanie Moores, Community and Family Engagement Program Manager, distributed more than 7,000 presents to 1,264 people living in the Mission’s service area. Presents range from crossword puzzle books for older adults to toys and jackets for children. The Mission’s Christmas Program began as a way to provide gifts to the children of lighthouse keepers on remote islands. The Mission still delivers presents to children and seniors on unbridged islands as well as up and down the coast to children, families, and seniors by partnering with childcare centers, nursing homes, and prisons to provide presents to those who might not have them. Families can also register for the Mission’s Christmas Program and come to the Downeast campus to shop for their own children.  

The elves serve two different purposes. First, they sort, pick, and wrap presents for individuals that cannot come to the Downeast Campus. For these presents, facilities—like a nursing home—send requests for recipients and the elves do their magic handpicking items that will fill those wish lists. Elders in nursing homes are gifted clothing, crossword puzzles, knitted blankets, toiletries as well as baby dolls and stuffed animals. Children in daycare centers receive small gifts and toys. Once items are picked, the elves then package and wrap each gift to send them to the recipients. 

The elves also help fulfill the requests of seniors and children living on the outer islands. Working directly with Douglas Cornman, Director of Island Outreach, they strategize what to give each islander served by the Christmas program. These presents are brought to the Sunbeam to make the trip to their island destination.  Finally, the elves also help families shop for presents for their children. Families who sign up for the program are given time slots to visit the “North Pole” where they select presents for their children. The room is set up with presents for all ages from babies to teens with toys, books, clothing, and toiletries set up for families to peruse. The elves offer suggestions, and when families are done their shopping, they help wrap them.  

For many of the elves, helping bring Christmas to families is a labor of love and something that they have done year after year.  

Wrapping a present

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