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Couple Again Playing Santa for a Dozen Middletown Families

Marcella Trowbridge and Dic Wheeler of Artfarm, the Middletown-based theatrical company, are collecting food, gifts and other goodies for Mr. Claus to deliver in the Great Zucchini bus.

Dic Wheeler of Middletown's Artfarm plays Santa with Marcella Trowbridge.
Dic Wheeler of Middletown's Artfarm plays Santa with Marcella Trowbridge.
The duo known throughout Middletown for Shakespeare in the Grove, Circus for a Fragile Planet and countless other theatrical and educational performances are conjuring up jolly Old Saint Nick later this month to surprise a dozen needy families.

Marcella Trowbridge and Dic Wheeler of Artfarm, the Middletown-based theatrical company that encourages simple living, environmental sustainability and social action, are collecting donations for holiday baskets they and a small army of volunteers will assemble and distribute.  

A handful of years ago, Trowbridge began circulating an email to community members she thought would contribute to the project — and boy was she surprised at the outpouring of support. 

"Last year, you shopped, baked, wrapped, assembled or labeled tremendous baskets (beyond baskets — multiple people with arm loads for each family!) that Santa (aka Mr. Wheeler) with teen and children elven-helpers delivered in Artfarm's big green bus to 10 Middletown families.

"It was a delight and a joy to sing and laugh and leave presents and treats and have our hearts touched in the process," Trowbridge says.

Givers essentially adopt a family that Wheeler and Trowbridge have identified as in need this holiday season, then purchase, wrap and label presents for everyone. Seasonal gifts like gloves, hats and slippers are welcome, as are magazine subscriptions for the children, home-baked cookies and breads, boxes of clementines, chocolates, gift certificates for groceries and other non-perishable items.

Trowbridge is collecting donations before Dec. 19 for distribution the following afternoon in Artfarm's version of Santa's sleigh — the Great Zucchini, a green bus festively decorated for the occasion.

Items needed include a dozen reasonably sized baskets, books for children, grocery gift cards in $25 to $100 denominations, holiday tins, plastic bags for cookies, decorative ribbon and any other goodies. Help is also needed on Dec. 19 to assemble the baskets.

"As full and challenging as our lives are — we are all so incredibly blessed — some folks right in our own community have not nearly so much as we," Trowbridge says. "The spirit of this can renew hope, beyond even the gifts themselves."

To help out or make a donation, email marcella@art-farm.org.

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