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Epping 'Mitten Tree' will keep veterans warm this winter

Union Leader Correspondent

December 03. 2017 9:29PM

Mittens, hats and other warm clothing are beginning to fill a new “Mitten Tree” inside the Epping Town Hall. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

EPPING — Town hall employees are asking the public to lend a helping hand to fill their first “Mitten Tree” to help keep veterans warm this winter.

The tree was set up inside the town hall for generous donors to hang mittens, hats, scarves, and socks that will be given to Liberty House in Manchester after Christmas.

Joyce Blanchard, the town’s administrative assistant, said she came up with the idea after seeing a similar “Mitten Tree” elsewhere last year.

Each holiday season the town hall employees come together to help out veterans. Some years they’ve filled stockings for veterans at the VA Medical Center, sent care packages to veterans, and provided gift cards.

This year they decided to give to Liberty House — a transitional housing facility for formerly homeless veterans.

Blanchard said this is the first time that the employees have opened up their annual campaign to the public.

“Everybody from the town hall does it, but this year we got the public involved. Everybody thinks it’s a good idea. It was different and I thought we could give it a try,” said Blanchard, whose son served in the Marines and whose father, Army Sgt. Charles G. Dodge, was a POW in Germany during World War II.

Word is spreading about the tree. Blanchard said people have been stopping by and hanging their donated items.

“I’m still hoping for more to fill a box,” she said.

Items can be placed on the tree or dropped off at the selectmen’s office.

Blanchard also supported an effort last year to buy a black wooden chair that now sits at the town hall to pay tribute to prisoners of war and those veterans who are missing in action.

The chair sits behind velvet rope with an American flag and black POW-MIA flag placed on either side. At the time, Epping was one of about a dozen to buy a chair to remind town hall visitors about the sacrifices of war veterans.

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