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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus has named Maria Vortsel of the Town of Wawayanda as January’s Citizen of the Month Award winner.
Vortsel, a mother of two young children, created the “Orange County NY Holiday Gift Giving Group” on Facebook to connect residents with families that had a difficult time providing Christmas presents for their children.
“Maria’s kind gesture is what the holiday season is all about and I know that it made her happy to help her neighbors in need,” Neuhaus said. “There are families in Orange County that unfortunately can’t provide gifts for their children, and this social media initiative helped those kids experience the joy of receiving a present this year. I’m proud to recognize Maria for all of her work and want to thank all of the residents who donated to the worthy cause.”
Vortsel was inspired to create the gift-giving group in late-October after learning about some of the financial challenges that local families were facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. She networked with friends and Facebook mom groups to find volunteers for the cause. Vortsel said she matched approximately 80 families throughout Orange County with sponsors, which helped approximately 300 children receive presents on Christmas.
Many of the sponsors hand-delivered the presents to families or sent them via direct mail. Vortsel also delivered many presents and said she plans on doing another drive for next season. Vortsel and her husband, Rudy, a U.S. Marine Corps. veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan, have two children, Logan, 5, and Meredith, who celebrated her first birthday earlier this month.
“I was really touched by how many people wanted to help,” Maria Vortsel said. “I was grateful for the response from the community and all of the volunteers who assisted in making the gift giving group a success. A lot of people with children were experiencing hard times and this made their Christmas a little easier. I appreciate County Executive Neuhaus recognizing and supporting our efforts.”
Neuhaus introduced his Citizen of the Month Award, which acknowledges outstanding Orange County residents, in January of 2017. To nominate someone for the Citizen of the Month Award, please email email@example.com or mail a letter to “Citizen of the Month” at 255-275 Main Street Goshen, N.Y. 10924. Be sure to include the nominee’s name, hometown, a list of their accomplishments, why you are nominating them and any other pertinent information.
For more information, contact Justin Rodriguez, Assistant to the County Executive for Communications and Media Relations at 845.291.3255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.