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"For the Kids" event Saturday
Members of the Band of Gypsies pose behind their banner "For the Kids" during Pumpkin Fest. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
MEXICO -- The Band of Gypsies, a new group dedicated to bring Christmas cheer to area youngsters this year, met on Oct. 29 to discuss the upcoming Saturday event called "For the Kids," a debut rock-and-roll social event from 3 p.m. to midnight with auctions and live bands that have donated their time at the Rumford Eagles Club.
Those bands include Network, Yankee Wailer, Haydn Jones & Friends and DJ Bruno B.
The event will include a buffet style potluck dinner (5-7 p.m.; takeouts available), with raffles and an auction for items donated by local individuals and businesses.
For the admission, they are asking for people to donate a toy or clothing suitable for a youth between ages 12-18. For people who would like to donate toys or clothing but cannot attend, they can arrange a pick up. The Band of Gypsies would like to help put a smile on these children's faces by assisting local non-profit organizations to donate useful items such as toys (mainly) or warm winter clothes.
Scott May noted that Santa's Helpers helped some 365 families last year, which included clothing and toys for youngsters. However the age cutoff to help youngsters for that group is age 12.
"What happens for those kids who have been helped in the past who are now too old for Santa's Helpers?"
That is why, for this year, the Band of Gypsies is targeting to help youth ages 12 to 18.
May noted that they started out with a goal of filling a 16-foot trailer with toys. The group began as a couple dozen riders who wanted to help make Christmas a little more special for area children whose parents may not be able to afford much, if anything at all. In the last month, they have shot up to over 300 members through their Facebook page.
Laura Pepin said "We're on a learning curve. But with all we've accomplished, I'm excited about where we're heading."
Further, she noted that their group will have a full year in 2013 to work to help the kids instead of three months this year.
Scott Belskis said, "We have a lot of people who haven't contributing before or were willing to put in a lot of time."
Even before other donations and the upcoming fundraiser, the Band of Gypsies have more than $4,500 and toys to donate this year. This includes some $1,150 raised recently in the toll bridge event in Dixfield. They also held a toy ride on Oct. 7 and operated a donation booth with support from Hotel Rumford on Oct. 20 during Envision Rumford's debut Pumpkin Fest.
Belskis said that all the funds will be used to purchase toys locally. It will done in time for the Dec. 16 distribution day that Santa's Helpers will hold.
Donations can still be made to the Band of Gypsies after that date, with proceeds going towards Christmas food baskets, to be handed out based on need.
Member Alan Cayer said the Band of Gypsies will have an organizational meeting the day after Christmas to discuss next year's effort. But whatever they decide, they will be entirely an independent group in 2013. They will also be getting their 501C4 certificate.
For more information or to donate, contact Al Cayer at 357-8682, Scott Belskis at 739-0392, Scott May at 418-1334 or Laura Pepin at 357-8731, or visit the Band of Gypsies site on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/491742620845747.