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TOWNSEND — The holiday shopping season traditionally begins on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but this past Friday the North Middlesex Regional School District SPED PAC threw open the doors of the high school to some early-bird shoppers wiith the second annual Shopper’s Night and Raffle.

With the cafeterias festooned with holiday decorations, several hundred people browsed an assortment of vendors’ goods at the event, all for a good cause.

According to organizer Suzanne Doust, the money raised will assist special needs programs throughout the district.

Each vendor purchased a table and donated an item for the raffle.

Visitors were entertained by holiday tunes from the Spaulding Memorial and Nissitissit school choruses, and the NMRHS Drama Club got into the act with a holiday skit.

Shoppers could purchase a variety of goods from Tupperware and cooking utensils to jewelry and body oils. Many unique gifts were available including a signed book by local author Sheila Ellis, of Rindge, N.H. Her book, titled, “Wild Boar Moose and the Four,” was written last year adn follows the schoolyard tales of four friends and their problems with bullying. The book’s illustrations were done by her 18-year-old autistic niece.

The heart of the fund-raiser was the charity raffle. Shoppers bought tickets and placed them into boxes corresponding to each item. A special raffle was held for an American Girl doll.

With 38 shopping days left, there wasn’t the frenzy of the local shopping mall but the spirit of the coming holidays was evident. Shoppers who developed an appetite while browsing were tempted by 25 different vendors offering food and baked goods, all donated by parents or local businesses. — James Burson