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November 30, 2012

Shop owners seek to help local charities for the holidays

Shop owners gathering up donations for local charities

’Tis the season to buy gifts for friends and family, but several Newburyport shopkeepers and restaurant owners are hoping that, in addition to taking merchandise home as gifts, their customers will also bring some items into their businesses this year.

Retailers and restaurateurs are collecting various items from toys to hats, gloves and pajamas this season in hopes of spreading some holiday cheer to local charities.

At Valerie’s Gallery on State Street, owner Valerie Stainton was propelled to hold a hats and mittens drive for the first time after getting involved with the group, Community Giving Tree in Boxford, which distributes gently used clothing and baby equipment to families in need on the North Shore.

The campaign has been such a success, Stainton has expanded it. In addition to new and gently used hats and mittens, customers are also encouraged to donate packages of new pajamas, socks and underwear. The drive runs through Dec. 10, she said, and items of all sizes for children up to age 12 are needed. The agency will start distributing the supplies to families the following week.

“People have been really generous,” Stainton said, which is typical in Newburyport. Often, if business owners or their customers know of an opportunity to help a group or a nonprofit, they willing jump in.

Matt Khatib, owner of M.K. Winston Jewelers, echoed that sentiment this week. For the past several years, the owner of the State Street jewelry shop has collected donations for Toys for Tots, and each year, his customers flood the boxes with items of all shapes and sizes, he said.

“Anything you can think of, we’ve gotten,” he said. “I have never met a group of people as generous as the people in Newburyport.”

The first year his store ran the holiday drive, the Marines collected enough toys at Khatib’s store to help 900 families, he said. Each family receives two toys. The second year and third year, customers donated enough toys for 600 families, Khatib said.

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