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Former Moreau Town Hall

The former Moreau Town Hall stands at the corner of 5th and Hudson streets in the village of South Glens Falls, as seen in 2010. 

MOREAU — At last, there's a use for the old town hall, which has sat vacant for more than four years.

It will be used by the Moreau Community Center to distribute food for Thanksgiving and food and gifts for Christmas.

The distribution has become so large that the center doesn't have room for all the items.

"What we found in past years is we end up having to close down programs once this stuff starts arriving into the building," said center Director of Development Kelly Obermayer. "The numbers just seem to be increasing."

She's not sure if there's more poverty or if more people have realized there's help. The center only serves Moreau and South Glens Falls residents, but last year the center gave Christmas gifts to 234 children.

The center manages the logistics — gathering applications for help, organizing donations and distributing it all. But almost all of the actual items are donated by the community, including churches and scouting troops.

Partly because of the lack of space, the center stopped giving out turkeys years ago. Instead, donors pay for Hannaford gift cards for each family to buy a turkey.

"Logistically, getting the right size turkey to the right size family was a problem, and we didn't have the space, so with all that we don't do real turkeys anymore," Obermayer said.

But the rest of the meal will be provided, and for that they'll turn to the old town hall for space.

First they'll stock it with potatoes, carrots, stuffing, pie fixings and other foods. Those will be distributed Nov. 19. Applicants have already been chosen.

As soon as Thanksgiving is over, they'll prepare for the Christmas distribution. That takes even more space — in addition to the food, they receive upwards of 1,000 presents to give out.

Residents can apply for that distribution through Dec. 3 at the community center, 144 Main St., South Glens Falls. They'll be asked to make lists for each child at the time, and the children will be assigned numbers to keep them anonymous.

Donors who want to adopt a family can fill out the adoption application on the community center website, moreaucommunitycenter.org, at any time.

"There's no deadline, but the sooner the better," Obermayer said.

Donors can also buy unwrapped new toys without adopting a child. Those toys should be dropped off at the center, to be assigned to children based on their lists.

Some parents get optimistic when they make the lists, writing that a child most wants a Nintendo video game system or other expensive toy.

"We explain that probably won't be purchased," Obermayer said. "But you'd be surprised. Our adopters are very generous."

A few adopters say they want to adopt a senior, so the center will match them with a senior in need. Usually, seniors just sign up for the holiday food distribution, so the center reaches out to seniors to ask about other needs when an adopter asked for a senior's wish list.

Volunteers are also needed for the week of Dec. 10, when all the donated gifts are dropped off and everything is organized for each family.

Then they'll haul everything a block down the road to the old town hall and get ready for the distribution on Dec. 17.

Children love it, with young children often thinking the presents are from Santa.

"You have to see it. It will really give you the true meaning of Christmas," Obermayer said.

The old town hall has been for sale for years, and various groups have expressed interest in buying it. But each deal fell through.

Board members have largely believed the problem is the building itself, and member Gina Leclair carefully asked Obermayer if she was sure the building would be acceptable.

Leclair specifically asked about handicap access, but Obernayer said she walked the town hall ramp and it held up.

"There are a few spots that are rough, but I think for our purposes it will be fine," she said. "We'll mostly use it for wheeling hand carts into the building."

The town will let the community center use the building for free from Nov. 1 to Dec. 17.

The community center will pay the utility bill during the time period.

Board members said they were delighted to be able to help out with the distribution. Leclair moved the resolution with a "big yes."

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 518-742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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reporter - Health care, Moreau, Queensbury, South Glens Falls

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