On the posts of generosity

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:53

    The temperature might have read in the 30's and the wind-chill might have made it feel even colder, but community volunteers of all ages came out to raise money during this Christmas season. They rang their bells, spread their cheer and thanked those who helped them help others. Dozens of these community members volunteered Saturday and Sunday to raise money for the Salvation Army. There were three posts, at Stop and Shop supermarket in Monroe, Wal-Mart in Harriman and Shop Rite in Monroe. The volunteers came from several community groups but they had one common goal. At the Stop and Shop post in Monroe, Justin Morgan, Nina Carucci, and Natasha Buzzonetti were three young people who staffed the entrance side of the store. These three young people and others volunteered on behalf of the Monroe Teen Mission, one of the groups which sent its volunteers to spread some Christmas cheer. Justin Morgan, a 14-year old Monroe-Woodbury High School student, said that his group does several volunteer missions in the Monroe area throughout the year. "We raise money at the Cheese Festival which we use to fund teen awareness activities for local kids and we also help out at homeless shelters," the Town of Monroe resident said. Nina Carucci is 16 and has been a volunteer for three years. "It's good to make a person happy," she said. "It makes me really happy. I want to just split myself in half so I could do more." Teenagers of teen mission were called upon by the Monroe-Woodbury Rotary club, officially the head of the fund-raising event. The donations would then go on to the Salvation Army. Cliff Berchtold, a 59-year-old from the town of Monroe, has volunteered on behalf of the M-W Rotary club for more than two decades. His wife, Marcy, is treasurer of the Rotary Club and has been involved even longer. "As a coordinator this year, it's great to see all these volunteers coming out to help," Berchtold, a Vietnam veteran, said. "We have all sorts of volunteers for this project, including those from Teen Mission, members from various other MWHS clubs and everybody from bus drivers, to lawyers, to church people." Throughout the weekend, the posts were fully staffed. Volunteers continued to show up, despite the cold temperatures. Many of the young people asked if they could work an extended four-hour shift, beyond their original two hours. "For 18 years, we held the record, raising the most money in the Hudson Valley," Berchtold said. "The unbelievable part is that we are not in malls. We don't do places like the Galleria, or similar places in the Hudson Valley. We do our three local posts and have raised the most. It shows the generosity of the community." According to past numbers, the Monroe effort brought in - on average - almost $10,000. But not everybody necessarily donated money to help. At one point, a woman came up to Marcy and asked a question. An older woman, bundled up from head to toe, trying to neutralize the vicious cold wind, asked Marcy Berchtold about how she could donate some of her furniture to The Salvation Army. The woman said that she wanted to help and thought that it was a good cause. Marcy Berchtold told the woman some information and some locations to call and the woman, in an Irish brogue, said "thank you." The Berchtolds check up on both posts periodically. At one time when the two were at the entrance post, an average-looking man, no more than 35, came up to them. He smiled at both and said "Hello" and wished the two a Merry Christmas. Both Cliff and Marcy returned the greeting and told him "thank you," as he threw in some spare money he had in his pocket. The average Joe, of no wealth or hierarchy, then took out several bills from his wallet and threw it into the pot.