BERWICK - The Town of Berwick’s staff and council have a special holiday tradition that’s enough to make the Grinch’s heart grow another three sizes.
Every year employees and elected officials alike pool some money together to gather goodies for Stephen Dooks rather than exchanging gifts with colleagues.
“I’d much rather do that than receive a gift myself and I think the rest of them feel that way,” said Boylan-Hartling, who added that Dooks does not have any relatives living nearby.
“He’s special. We’re his family.”
Dooks started working for the Town of Berwick for a few hours each week after being placed there through his previous involvement with the health authority’s Beacon Program. He’s completed odd jobs for the town on a regular basis for many years.
“He’s a really, really good guy. He’d do anything for you,” said Boylan-Hartling.
“This way he has those extra treats that we just take for granted.”
There have been a few big surprises for Dooks over the years, including a big flat screen television.
“To see him and see his face when he gets those things, that’s Christmas,” said Boylan-Hartling.
“He just doesn’t know what to say. He’s overwhelmed by it all.”
The latest Christmas care package was complete with festive foods, treats, a new winter coat, boots, a hoodie, socks, toques, pajamas and pies donated by Apple Valley Pies Plus.
And there’s always the promise of a home-cooked dinner delivered by Boylan-Hartling and her husband, Dale, on Christmas Day.
“This way he has gifts to open, he has lots to eat and he loves my husband’s cooking,” said Boylan-Hartling.
“He means a lot to us.”