Troopers, off-roaders team up to help Santa bring cheer to kids at Kurn Hattin Homes

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

VSP Tpr. Zach Gauthier, Lt. Anthony French, Sgt. Dan Martin and Cpl. Paul Dean join Santa and Elf Ashlee White in a visit to the children of The Kurn Hattin School. Photos provided

Santa Claus and one of his elves weren’t the only ones in uniform at the Kurn Hattin Homes in Westminster last week as Vermont State Troopers from the Westminster State Police Barracks joined the jolly one to deliver toys and books to the kindergarten through fifth grade students there.

While they shared cookies and a story with Santa and his elf, the children had the opportunity to spend some time with troopers in a positive environment.

For their part, troopers said it was great to see the joy in the children’s faces as they entered the room to distribute gifts.

Cpl. Paul Dean helps one youngster choose a book

The troopers are thanking an off-road 4×4 group from Connecticut called Northeast Flatlanders for donating toys to the effort.

Started by three boyhood friends – two of whom are also police officers –  NEF  stuffed three VSP cruisers with donated the toys during a trail maintenance day they held in Rockingham in October.

“Just under 50 people donated toys,” Aaron Matthew, a Connecticut State Trooper, told The Telegraph, “and then helped to clean up an off-road trail.” Matthew said he was pleased that the toys went to a good home and thanked the Vermont troopers for distributing them.

Aside from Matthew, there are 15 active members of the group – including his boyhood friends Pete Gargulio, a Wolcott, Conn., police officer and Andie Srenaski. The group, made up of  “mostly cops and Marines,” has done toy drives in Connecticut and decided to add the Kurn Hattin toy drive to a trail clean-up they held on Oct. 27.

NEF member Pete Garguilo with one of the VSP cruisers the organization packed with toys.

“Trails can get abused and people sometimes have the wrong impression of (four wheelers),” said Matthew hoping that NEF can help balance that impression.

In addition to NEF, the Pajama Program donated books for the children. The Pajama Program gives new pajamas and new books to children all across the country “in support of their right to a loving bedtime and good night.”




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