Men make mission of letting community know about service
All bespectacled and in various states of gray, Floyd Lee, Bob Hanson, Bob Hiibner and Mel Murphy drive around town every year spreading the word of the Christmas Bureau.
They target spots where the brightly colored posters they affix to windows and bulletin boards might catch the eyes of potential recipients. Goodwill. The Union Gospel Mission. A senior center, an unemployment office, a food bank. They hit about four dozen spots altogether. Over the years, they’ve developed routes.
“We don’t do a whole lot of backtracking,” said Hiibner, 74, who works in tandem with Hanson, 73, a pal of his since they attended second grade together at the long-gone Hamilton grade school on Wellesley Avenue.
When they run across people who are interested, who might benefit, they fill them in on the details: where to go and when – and, especially, what to bring with them to secure Christmas toys for their children and grocery vouchers for their families.
The men do what they can to ensure that people bring the correct paperwork – new forms of documentation are required this year to demonstrate children’s names, addresses and birth dates – because it’s tough to send people home to retrieve it after they’ve spent a couple of cold hours in line.
“Going home can be a two-hour bus ride each way,” said Lee, 76.
“They come from 100 miles sometimes,” said Hanson.
The four men are among hundreds of volunteers who make the Christmas Bureau run. Poster delivery is what the men are known for among Christmas Bureau coordinators, although they volunteer in other ways, too, restocking toys and assisting people in line, for example.
“It’s something I look forward to every year,” said Murphy, 74. “Yep, it’s fun.”