Poughkeepsie… “The employees of Dutchess County Government have once again demonstrated their dedication and commitment to our community this holiday season,” said Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus. “These special people work hard each and every day to serve the residents of Dutchess County and then go above and beyond to try to make the holidays special for those less fortunate in our community. I commend all of them for their generosity and good will.”
Combining a mix of traditional giving such as toy collections and coat drives with creative fundraising methods including holiday caroling and “naughty word” fine boxes, Dutchess County Government employees have worked hard to give back to the community and ensure less fortunate residents will enjoy a happy holiday season.
The Dutchess County Department of Social Services (DSS) workforce has spread holiday cheer with numerous community efforts. Clients and visitors coming into the DSS reception area are treated to candy canes coordinated through the Staff Development and Personnel Unit. The staff in Children’s Services and the Child Support Enforcement Unit both sponsored their annual ‘Hat and Mitten Trees’ to provide scarves, mittens and hats to children in foster care as well as the Grace Smith House. Several divisions including the Medicaid Unit, the Food Stamps division, Computer Information Services Unit, the Special Investigation Unit and the Temporary Assistance & Employment division have raised funds to provide gifts and holiday meals for exceptionally needy families through Adopt-A-Family efforts as well as the Salvation Army Adopt-A-Child program. Donations were also made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Heifer International, Hudson Valley Food Bank, and the Salvation Army’s Angel Tag program by various divisions. Fundraising efforts have included bake sales, raffles and even a “naughty word” fine box.
The County Office Building and several other county buildings were alive with the sound of music as the Dutchess County Department of Public Works (DPW) Buildings division went from floor to floor singing Christmas carols and raised over $1,500 to adopt four local Social Services families as well as a foster care child for the holidays. In addition, the DPW Parks division at Bowdoin Park conducted a successful coat drive in October and collected 50 coats for Dutchess Outreach.
Lynn Berkley from the Dutchess County Office of Computer Information Systems (OCIS) coordinated the 17th Annual Dutchess County Employees and Dutchess Community College Toy Drive. The toy drive provides much needed toys to the Poughkeepsie Salvation Army for underprivileged children ages one to twelve years throughout Dutchess County. Most County departments participate in this annual program. Well over 1,000 toys were collected this year to help provide gifts to more than 400 families. “The employees of Dutchess County Government and Dutchess Community College have very warm hearts! Every year, the response gets better and better. It is truly a joy to give to those who are less fortunate especially during the holiday season,” said Ms. Berkley.
County employees also look out for furry friends during the holiday season. The Dutchess County Water and Water Authority as well as the County Attorney’s Office collect toys and treats for the animals sheltered at the Dutchess County SPCA.
Other holiday giving efforts include the Department of Health employees’ annual donation to Heifer International, a charity that strives to end poverty and hunger by providing a source of sustainable nourishment and self-reliance for people worldwide through gifts of animals. The staff at the Department of Mental Hygiene host holiday parties and provide gifts to patients in their clinical units including the Millbrook Continuing Day Treatment Center. The Department of Probation and Community Corrections collect money to Adopt-A-Family as well as host a raffle and 50/50 to donate money to the Holiday Helping Hand Fund. The Personnel Department partners with the County Attorney’s Office to host penny socials to raise money for the adoption of local Social Services families. The County Attorney’s Office is also coordinating the collection of phone cards to send to U.S. troops overseas.
County Executive Steinhaus also noted the generosity of the employees of Dutchess County Government is not limited to the holiday season. “We recently concluded our annual United Way campaign. This year, county employees contributed over $102,000 to the United Way of Dutchess County,” he said. Other community efforts throughout the year include the March of Dimes annual Walk-a-Thon and the Blue Jeans for Babies campaign.
“It really warms your heart to see how many of our county government employees have taken it upon themselves to ensure members of the community enjoy a happy holiday season,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “It is with great pride that I thank all of the employees for their efforts and wish each and every resident of Dutchess County a safe and happy holiday season,” he concluded.