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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Bernice Burgoyne said she felt like Imelda Marcos while shopping for shoes for the Nashua Pastoral Care Center and Telegraph Santa Fund at Alec's Shoes in Nashua Thursday, December 15, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Lisa Kreuger of The Telegraph looks over her list of requests at Alec's Thursday, December 15, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Telegraph publisher Terry Williams looks over shoes at Alec's Thursday.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Piles of shoes are bagged for distribution at Alec's in Nashua. Volunteer shoppers took lists of children in need and gathered 100 pairs during their morning spree Thursday, December 15, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Vanessa Palange of The Telegraph shops for shoes at Alec's Shoes on Main Street in Nashua Thursday, December 15, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Bernice Burgoyne said she felt like Imelda Marcos while shopping for shoes for the Nashua Pastoral Care Center and Telegraph Santa Fund at Alec's Shoes in Nashua Thursday, December 15, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Piles of shoes are bagged for distribution at Alec's in Nashua. Volunteer shoppers took lists of children in need and gathered 100 pairs during their morning spree Thursday, December 15, 2011.
Friday, December 16, 2011

Volunteers go shoe shopping for needy

NASHUA – Call it the ultimate Secret Santa.

Searching Thursday through the aisles of Alec’s Shoes, Cindy DellaCamera didn’t know anything more about her assigned child than a name, an age and a shoe size.

Armed with some basic information – Julian, 11, size 5 – it was time to shop. After she found a pair of shoes she thought would work out best, it was time to move on to the next name on the list – Azucera, 2, size 9 (toddler).

“They really don’t give you much to go on, but that’s ok,” DellaCamera, a volunteer with the Nashua Pastoral Care Center, said Thursday morning as she sorted through shoe boxes. “That makes it more fun.”

DellaCamera joined nine other volunteers Thursday, picking out shoes for community children as part of The Telegraph’s annual Santa Fund, which raises money, along with toys and clothing for local families in need.

This year, Santa Fund organizers partnered with Alec’s Shoes in an effort to keep a local focus.

“We’ve never done it like this before. This keeps it all local,” said Terry Williams, The Telegraph publisher, who along with other volunteers searched the aisles for pairs of children’s shoes.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to give back to the community,” added John Koutsos, the store owner, who offered a significant discount on the shoe purchases.

“That’s what this season is all about.”

For nearly two hours Thursday, the volunteers, from both the Pastoral Care Center and The Telegraph, scoured the aisles for shoes, boots, slippers and other footwear.

“Shoes are important, especially to teens. … This is the one way some of them feel like they fit in,” Maryse Wirbal, director of the Pastoral Center, said as she searched for shoes.

“This is great. I feel like Imelda Marcos,” said Bernice Burgoyne, another volunteer, referencing the famed First Lady of the Philippines, who was known for her extravagant shoe collection. “It’s not even my money. … It’s a lot of fun.”

In the end, the volunteers collected about 100 pairs of footwear to be distributed to area families. The shoes will then be waiting for the children on Christmas morning.

“What a great gift to give,” said Koutsos, Alec’s owner. “It’s a great way to help.”

And some of the volunteers may have found gifts for themselves, as well.

“I’m coming back here next week,” said Kim Lencki, The Telegraph’s events manager and volunteer shopper. “I saw a few pairs of boots I’d like for myself.”

In total, about 1,500 families have registered for help this year from the Santa Fund, including about 3,500 children.

Santa Fund organizers have collected about $50,000 so far this year, which is down more than $10,000 from this time last year. But, organizers are hopeful to make up the gap in the days before Christans and to reach $100,000 for the fifth year in a row.

“We’re a little behind right now, but we’re confident we’ll catch up,” said Williams, The Telegraph publisher.

“We’ll make a big push the last week.”

To donate cash or gift cards, please mail them to the Telegraph Santa Fund, 17 Executive Drive, Hudson, NH, 03051. Donors can also submit money online by going to www.nashuatelegraph.com/santafund.

The Web site also includes drop-off locations for new toys and clothes.