Auburn Youth and Family Services has announced its recipients 2017 award recipients. Donald Packard has been named the recipient of the Children’s Friend award,  and the Auburn Fire Rescue Department will receive the Ben Masterman Business Community Service Award. The awards are given at the AYFS annual meeting each year. This year, the meeting is Wednesday, October 4.

Mr. Packard has been a longtime supporter of AYFS, and for each of the past 15 or so years has provided over 100 Christmas stockings and Easter baskets for children.

Packard is a retired Worcester teacher. He settled in Auburn in 1969 and has lived here ever since.

“I’ve been working with kids my whole life” said Packard. “I started teaching CCD when I was a teenager, so well over 50 years now I’ve been involved with kids.”

Packard also has a personal connection to AYFS. “I had a friend with two daughters who received services through AYFS, and I also had a grandson who received services through AYFS” Packard said. “This is my way of giving back to AYFS and to keep helping kids however I can.”

Packard says he started with about 25 Christmas stockings 15 years ago, and now that number is over 100 per year.  It has become an almost year-round project for him.

“At Christmas, as soon as the holiday is over I head out to the stores and scoop things up at a discount” said Packard. “I get crayons, coloring books, small toys, things like theat. The food items like candy and cookies I have to buy around this time of year, closer to Christmas so they stay fresh.”

In addition to the stockings and goodies he buys to put inside, Packard also handmakes chocolate lollipops for each of the stockings and Easter baskets.

All of his work is done behind the scenes, with Packard delivering the goods to AYFS Executive Director, Sally D’Arcangelo when they are ready.

“I am not involved where anyone knows my name” said Packard. “This stuff is from Santa and the Bunny, so you know…”

D’Arcangelo added, “This is a great way to recognize Donald’s long commitment to AYFS. He has worked so long and so hard behind the scenes, and we felt we really wanted to acknowledge all he has done for our kids

The Ben Masterman Business Community Service Award is being awarded to the Auburn Fire Rescue Department for their commitment to the agency. Says D’Arcangelo, “We are just so gratefil for ll they do for [AYFS]. They come to the summer program and work with the kids, they held a youth leadership program where they took the kids rock climbing, and to the West St. training tower. They just go so above and beyond”.

The meeting begins at 7am on Wednesday with a breakfast provided by Heritage Coffee Shop. In addition to the awards presentations, AYFS will be inducting new officers. Departing president, Lynn Ellis, will be replaced by Ralph Capaldi. Scott Wren assumes the position of vice president, William Mahoney will be the treasurer, and Donna Wrenn will serve as secretary.