BRATTLEBORO -- The Reformer Christmas Stocking isn't funded with only moderate-sized donations from individuals this time of year. Healthy portions of cash are also donated from community businesses and groups that choose to give back as a sign of gratitude.
Rashed's Garden Center, G.S. Precision and Vermont Yankee are some of the institutions that get into the holiday spirit each year and raise funds for the Stocking to spread some Yuletide joy. The Stocking, now in its 77th year, has developed into a year-round program that purchases new, warm outerwear for children through age 15.
Ahmad and Kat Rashed, owners of Rashed's Garden Center in West Brattleboro, sell Christmas trees every year and donates 100 percent of the profits to the Stocking.
"It was just an opportunity to help out and support the community that has supported us for a long time. It was just idea that my wife and I came up with," Ahmad Rashed said, adding that they have contributed to the Stocking for about 13 years. "They appreciate the work we do here."
G.S. Precision, founded by George Schneeberger in 1958, decided years ago to combine two concepts synonymous with Christmas -- good eats and charitable giving. The company holds potluck lunches on four consecutive Fridays, and employees donate money in exchange for food. Juanita Stewart, who works in quality engineering for G.S. Precision, told the Reformer 20 to 25 crockpots are typically brought in for lunch and the company's night shift often holds a couple of potluck meals as well. There are also company raffles employees can enter. Stewart said $1,006 was generated last week and $867 was accumulated the week before that.
The company raised $9,131 in 2012.
Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, which is expected to shut down by the end of 2014, each year holds its own Christmas Stocking-themed fundraising efforts, which is overseen by Janet Clark and Paul Guido.
But the community's generosity doesn't come strictly from businesses. The area's young people also chipped in this year, as the BUHS Madrigals -- an a cappella group -- held an Elizabethan Dinner Theater at Brattleboro Area Middle School on Friday, Nov. 15, and raised $796 off of suggested donations of $10.
BUHS Band Director Stephen Rice said the performance was an example of cross-curricular teamwork between the school's the art department, which consists of visual and practical arts, and the music department. He said the performance, directed by BUHS English Department Head Peter Cannizzaro, consisted of a storyline carried by a dozen musical pieces from the Renaissance.
Rice also said the show's roughly 100 guests were served food prepared by students involved in the school's cooking program.
Members of Windham Wheelmen, a group of about 30 male and female cyclists, also dig into their pockets around this time to pool together a donation to the Reformer Stocking. The amateur athletes raised $2,255 in 2012 and have generated $16,490 over the past 10 years.
Robert "Woody" Woodworth, a Brattleboro Union High School Board member and the owner of Burrows Specialized Sports, has helped organize the group's fundraising efforts.
"Over time we felt like we should give something back," he said. "We enjoy ourselves all year long and thought we should be doing some good."
Woodsworth said Windham Wheelmen is not a particularly sophisticated club, as no registration is required, but all its members typically kick in some money for the Stocking every year. He said the group has generated at least $1,000 a year for as long as he can remember, and 2012 was one of the first in which it broke the $2,000 mark. One year, Woodsworth said, the money was split between the Stocking and a different cause.
Woodsworth said this year's contribution should be delivered a few days before Christmas.
Stocking Chairperson Betty Elwell said she marvels at the selflessness of the area's businesses and organizations each year.
"The overwhelming support that the Christmas Stocking gets, it's just such a gift," he told the Reformer.
This year's Stocking goal is $90,000. The amount of money raised had reached $34,412 by Friday, Dec. 13.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.