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2020 News Stories

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Foxboro woman garners support from fellow residents, Jaycees to create Easter baskets for those in need


By JURI LOVE For The Sun Chronicle
April 16, 2020

FOXBORO — With the aid of a local civic group and community members, a Foxboro woman was able to create Easter baskets for 20 families who were grateful for the cheer at a time when many have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus.

Amy LaBrache, a lifelong Foxboro resident, sensed the urgency of those needs and decided to reach out to families who might need help as well as those who would be willing to contribute.

She posted an appeal on Facebook.

“It took off from there because one person posted to help and so many followed. It was a community effort,” said LaBrache, who with her husband Patrick has three children, Brendan, 20, Nathan, 18, and Sarah, 8.

Her daughter, who is a student at Igo Elementary School, helped to assemble all of the baskets with her mother.

Sarah said she pitched in ”because I like to see other people happy.”

Amy LaBrache and her daughter Sarah, 8, assembled Easter baskets for 20 families in need in the town with help from fellow residents and the Jaycees
Amy LaBrache and her daughter Sarah, 8, assembled Easter baskets for 20 families in need in the town with help from fellow residents and the Jaycees

Many people that LaBrache didn’t even know sent her donations via Venmo and dropped items at her house. She said one woman, in particular, offered to meet her at Target to do the necessary shopping.

“We did the bulk of the shopping together. It was so nice to meet a new person and work together to find items for each child. Another woman who owns a basket company donated all of the baskets and lots of items for the baskets,” LaBrache said.

The Foxboro Jaycees heard about her mission and donated gift cards to Stop and Shop for each family.

LaBrache said she asked about the children’s likes and tried to tailor the baskets to their ages.

“I think that in times like these it’s really important to support one another as a community. So many people are losing their jobs and are stuck on how they were going to provide baskets for their kids,” she said. “It provides some normalcy in such a confusing and stressful time. Some of these baskets were for people who are working on the front lines. What better way to thank them?” LaBrache said. “This was my first time venturing out with a project like this. But honestly, this was a community effort.”

She said she delivered a basket to one family, but most were picked up at her house.

One parent who asked to remain anonymous said she felt an enormous weight lifted off her shoulders when she saw the prepared Easter baskets for her girls.

She decided to reach out to LaBrache when she saw a post on Foxboro Discussion Facebook page because she was recently laid off from her job and she really can’t afford to do much until the economy opens up again.

“I was embarrassed, to be honest, but Amy made me feel better about asking for help and the baskets were a hit. Amy saved our Easter as I would not have been able to do much, if at all, for this holiday,” the mother said.

“My family and I are extremely grateful for the town of Foxboro and its generous residents like Amy. During these crazy times, community solidarity is very much needed. Many families, like mine, are under extreme stress due to how the coronavirus has disrupted our lives, including job loss and separation from families.”

She said LaBrache wanted nothing in exchange except to pay it forward.

“I would like to thank her and the many neighbors who made donations and provided many baskets to Foxboro children,” the woman said.

Jeanne Suttie, president of the Foxboro Jaycees, said the group decided to give to LaBrache’s project as a way to help the community during these unprecedented circumstances. LaBrache is vice president of membership of the Jaycees.

Since the group’s annual Easter egg hunt was canceled due to restrictions on gatherings caused by the coronavirus, the Jaycees donated the funds that are usually spent on the event to the Easter basket project.

“The Jaycees are all about helping others, we are the people who need to do something helpful. See a need, fill a need. That is what makes us tick,” said Suttie, adding that the project was personally important, especially in these times.

When Suttie was a child, her parents lost their jobs at the same time and was a very difficult time in their lives. She remembers her parents were very stressed.

“My family survived that time because both of my grandmothers helped where they could, groceries, shoes, clothes, etc., and because of the kindness of my parent’s friends, most of whom were Jaycees,” Suttie said

“This project brought the community together in a time of need to help provide for the children and families in need within our community. All I can say is keep it up Foxboro. This is not over yet, we are all in this together.”

LaBrache agreed. “I cannot thank the donors enough. All the donors are the reason that I was able to fulfill every request. This is truly what Foxboro does best. Taking care of our village. I hope that this made recipients’ holiday a little less stressful and fun for their children.”

Amy LaBrache and her daughter Sarah, 8, assembled Easter baskets for 20 families in need in the town with help from fellow residents and the Jaycees

Jamie DeVellis winner of 2020 Foxboro Jaycees Scholarship!

The Jaycees are an amazing group of individuals who work behind the scenes to engage people in community projects, embracing opportunities to mentor young adults who will hone skills and carry passion for service to the next chapter of their lives, hopefully in their home community of Foxboro – and wearing a blue shirt!

We present this scholarship in honor of long time Jaycee, Fred George, Jr. who spent countless hours assisting with Jaycees community projects and embracing leadership roles before losing a battle to cancer in December 2018. We remember him fondly as a loving father with a big heart, truly an amazing and wonderful role model who embodied Jaycees values.

The Foxboro High School class of 2020 was forced to create some new traditions due to the pandemic and abandon rites of passage other classes have experienced, but the spirit of the young adults in this community was undaunted by this unprecedented obstacle. The application pool of candidates oozed with amazing accomplishments, stellar academic and extra curricular accolades, and passion for creativity and leadership.

Finalist Jamie DeVellis participated in a diverse range of activities: volunteering at the Marilyn Rodman Theatre, delivering turkeys to veterans on Thanksgiving, helping at Community Night Out, coaching youth soccer, assisting the Rec Dept. – among so many other commitments – she worked hard behind the scenes to ensure the success of the event for others and with a humble demeanor.

Jamie will pursue occupational therapy at University of New Hampshire

We are so honored to present this scholarship in Fred’s memory to such a deserving college student who has already demonstrated the values we hold so dear.

TRUE SANTAS: Service is in the blood of Foxboro volunteer Lynda Walsh

By George W. Rhodes Dec 26, 2020

For Lynda Walsh, who served two terms on Foxboro’s select board and is a member of the Foxboro Jaycees, service is in her blood.

But Walsh, a Foxboro resident, also recognizes the service of others, especially veterans of the U.S. military who’ve put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms we all hold dear.

Every Thanksgiving for the last six years she and Jim Devellis organize a “thank you” for the town’s veterans.

Vets get a turkey, thank-you cards from school kids, tickets to the Thanksgiving Foxboro-Mansfield football game and a VIP tent with free coffee and doughnuts.

At first, veterans were reluctant to take the gifts because they thought it was charity, but it’s not.

“This is not charity,” Walsh said. “This is a thank you.”

Walsh is quick to give others credit including Stop & Shop, which gives a price break on the turkeys; kids in Foxboro schools, who write the cards; and Veterans Agent Ally Rodriguez.

“It takes a village,” Walsh said.

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.

… Jaycees Thank You Note…

The Foxboro Jaycees say thank you to Koopman Lumber & Hardware for the donation of new buckets for the Sand (Salt) for Seniors program!!

With love and might, two weightlifters, civic groups and artist from La Salette come together to restore iconic nativity scene in Foxboro

By Juri Love, published in the Sun Chronicle 12/6/2020


On November 28, 2020, as an early holiday gift to the town, Foxboro’s historic Nativity set got a makeover due to loving efforts by the Foxboro Jaycees, The Knights of Columbus, and a remarkable La Salette artist.

That morning, the Foxboro Jaycees, with help from the Knights of Columbus (KofC), brought out and set-up the nativity set on the Common which has been part of Foxboro for over 70 years.

The difference this year — the iconic statues have been completely restored for the first time in 28 years (when they were last restored by then Jaycee, Deb Wood) to their original glory by Brother Donald Wininski, MS, of La Salette Shrine in Attleboro.

According to a Reporter article by the late Vin Igo, around 1949 or so, the Foxboro Women’s club, along with a couple of prominent families in town, and local churches and businesses, raised funds and brought the large life-size nativity statues to the Town of Foxboro. This same Nativity set has been set-up on Foxboro Common every December since.

Early this year, the Jaycees, who have been the caretakers of the same nativity statues since around the mid-1980s, put this project above monetary considerations out of love for Foxboro and the community. Despite economic hardships this year limiting fundraising efforts by all civic organizations such as the Jaycees and the KofC, the Jaycees felt that it was important this year in particular to give this gift to the town of Foxboro and the Knights agreed and partnered with the Jaycees to share in the cost of the project.

Frank Nelsen, Grand Knight of Knights of Columbus (KofC), Foxboro/Sharon said, “The Knights support local charities and local community groups. We are pleased to partner with the Jaycees to help refurbish and set up the Nativity on the Common.”

Susan Gillis, 27 year member of the Jaycees who has lived in Foxboro for the last 30 years, offered to chair the project “Nativity set restoration.”

Gillis explained that the Jaycees had discussed restoring the Nativity set for many years but the cost was prohibitive. Over the years, Jaycee members have patched and touched up the set periodically as needed.

She reached out to Brother Ron Taylor at La Salette Shrine and asked him for his help. Brother Ron suggested for the Shrine’s artist, Brother Donald Wininski, who agreed to take on the challenge for an affordable donation gift to the Shrine. The Jaycees needed to wait until May to get the large statues to the Shrine because that’s when the Shrine graciously offered to empty out a section in one of their large garages for us, and for Brother Donald to restore. (This was at the height of the Pandemic).

It was very difficult to get the large statues to La Salette Shrine because to observe social distancing during the pandemic, and we could not get 4-5 strong people from different households to lift the statues together, (some are over 400 pounds). Also, extra precautions needed to be taken every time anyone went to the shrine for the safety of all the priests, brothers, and sisters who live there.

We are grateful to get lifting help from Zach and Nick Hadge, two super-strong Foxboro natives who are world championship title holders in weightlifting and who were quarantining in the same Foxboro family home together.

Nick (26) and Zach (28) Hadge are graduates of Foxboro High School and both attended Springfield College majoring in Exercise Science.

Zach and Nick Hadge drop off large nativity statues at the LaSalette Shrine for restoration by Brother Donald Wininski.
Zach and Nick Hadge drop off large nativity statues at the LaSalette Shrine for restoration by Brother Donald Wininski.

“Yearly we compete in the Team World Championship as a duo team representing the USA,” said the brothers. We are now both training to compete in world’s strongest man. Both are personal fitness trainers and Co-owners of The Performance Vibe.

The mighty Hadge brothers helped to move the heavy statues from Foxboro to La Salette Shrine. After Brother Donald finished his work, in August, the brothers worked with the KofC to move the set back home to Foxboro.

Brother Donald quickly went to work to restore the statues and worked 7-10 hours a day to get them done because he was afraid that if he got sick, the set would not get completed.

Brother Donald said, “First, I was honored that I was asked to restore the nativity figures. There were 13 figures. Over the years, they became damaged and the paint faded. It took months to complete the restoration work.”

“Looking back at the condition they were in and the condition now brings great satisfaction. The figures were brought back to life and their former glory. It makes me happy to know that when people look at this nativity scene, their spirits will be moved in some fashion,” Brother Donald added.

On November 28, Foxboro Cable Access was on hand to record the historic assembly and produced a video of the restoration process.

Lynda Walsh, Jaycee Community Development VP, presented Jaycee spirit awards to Brother Donald and also to Brother David Eubank representing La Salette. Brother David blessed the set. Walsh also presented a partnership award to the Nights of Columbus Grand Knight Frank Nelsen, and Gillis presented a Jaycee appreciation award for the Hadge brothers to Nick Hadge.

The assembled Jaycees then sang, “We Wish you a Merry Christmas.”

2020 has been so hard in so many ways and for so many, this was the Jaycees’ gift to the town. Please make sure you take the time and go see it for yourself. It is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

The Foxboro Jaycees thank everyone who was involved in any way to make this project possible!

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