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Share your family’s immigration story at the Festival of Trees

NASHOBA VALLEY VOICE/ANNE O’CONNOR Carolyn Sellars, president of the Townsend Public Library Endowment, left, and Library Director Stacy Schuttler with the Christmas tree decorated for a book titled “We Came to America.” Patrons can share the story of their family’s immigration to include on the tree.
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TOWNSEND — The library is packed with Christmas trees, each decorated to the theme of a book. With more than 50 faux evergreens, large and small, the rooms are a winter wonderland with heat.

The display is a community effort. The occasion is the Festival of Trees, now in its seventh year. Volunteers sign up for the book they want to interpret, and go to town decorating it for the enjoyment of all.

A tall, white tree with festooned with red, white and blue decorations sits right beside the circulation desk. Nearby, a basket with stars and pens invite all to be a part of the tree.

The book for this tree is “We Came to America,” chosen by the Townsend Public Library Endowment. Patrons can share the stories of their families’ history on a star to be added to the tree.

The book is even more topical now than it was when the endowment chose their book this summer, said Endowment President Carolyn Sellars. “The message that we’re mostly all immigrants seems to be one worth sharing now.”

Genealogy is popular at the library and the endowment has played a part in making patrons’ research possible.

“We give away $30,000 to $35,000 each year,” Sellars said. They began collecting money for the fund even before the new library, meeting hall and senior center was given to the town by Sterilite in 2009.

Some of the larger donors, like Terry McNabb, were interested in genealogy, she said. One of the first things the endowment funded was a database, Ancestry.com.

The ongoing gift of the database has made the library a gathering place for people wanting to learn more about their families and where they came from.

Local genealogist Dwight Fitch holds two monthly workshops, one at the library and one at the Senior Center at the other end of the building. Laptops and guidance are available.

The Festival of Trees will be on display at the library at 12 Dudley Road into the new year.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.

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