Christmas for Others helps keep people warm

December 17, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize individuals and groups who make the holidays better for others.

HANCOCK - Being a member of the Christmas for Others organization in Hancock is as natural as breathing for Aura McCusker.

"I just like people," said McCusker, a Christmas for Others committeewoman whose job each year is to make sure no one goes without a coat during the cold winter months.


Most of the coats are second-hand and come from the people of the Hancock community. McCusker said clients are always asked if they need coats for adults or children in their families.

"If we come up short, there is a voucher system we use for the purchase of a coat at a store," McCusker said.

The group also sees to it that food, toys, fruit baskets and other clothing all find their way to the people who need help the most.

"It's natural for me. I've always shared what I have with others," McCusker said.

Active in the Hancock community for about 20 years, Christmas for Others is sponsored by the Greater Hancock Council of Churches.

The seasonal work shifts into high gear at Thanksgiving. Starting on Dec. 16, coats and food items are taken to the Hancock Community Center, McCusker said.

Food is sorted on Dec. 17 and additional food is purchased as needed on Dec. 18.

The committee members and other volunteers gather at the center on Dec. 19 to pack the food and the fruit baskets.

The big day is Dec. 20 when all the items are distributed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., McCusker said.

Debbie Murphy serves as coordinator of the Christmas for Others. In addition to McCusker, committee members include Mary Scott, Debbie Wheeler, Hazel Souders, Vickie Miller, Nancy Douglas, Mark Stahr, the Rev. Ed James, the Rev. Jeffrey Hawbaker, Rita Holohan, Delores Ray, Betty Bradley, the Rev. Duane Jensen and Mary Ward.

Last year, Christmas for Others served 57 families and 46 seniors/singles.

The spirit of helping others comes naturally for McCusker, she said.

McCusker spent 35 years working in her family's gas station/store on Md. 144.

"Every day I'd go out the front door of my house and in the back door of the store," she said.

The business closed in 1986 when Interstate 68 opened, bypassing the stretch of Md. 144 that passes in front of McCusker's home.

Her husband, Robert, now 76, still works every day at H&H Storage, a fruit business on the other end of Hancock. Together they have had four children, 10 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren in their 56 years of marriage.

Tomorrow: Denise Gelsinger, public information officer at Roxbury Correctional Institution

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