Pinnacle Award: Anderson helps area children, adults - Tucson Local Media: Import

Pinnacle Award: Anderson helps area children, adults

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Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 11:00 pm

April 6, 2005 - The Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce named Lorraine Anderson Community Leader of The Year at the Pinnacle Awards Banquet April 5.

The chamber honored Lorraine Anderson with the Pinnacle Award during the awards banquet at Omni Tucson National Resort.

The award recognized individuals who have made significant contributions to Northern Pima County by providing outstanding leadership and community involvement.

The selection committee, made up of past chamber presidents, decided between three finalists before awarding Lorraine Anderson the Community Leader of the Year Award.

As a child growing up during the Depression, Lorraine Anderson remembers admiring the women volunteers that helped her family.

She remembers what it was like as a child to go without food and toys at Christmas.

"Everybody was hungry then," she said.

Anderson, who will be 81 next month, also remembers waiting in line during the holiday season for what little food and toys her family did receive.

"I had to go through it," she said. "We had no food."

After retiring from running a business and moving to Tucson, Anderson dedicated her time to giving to the community in a variety of different ways.

In 1995, Anderson formed a non- profit organization to serve underprivileged children at Christmas called the Miracle on Church Street. The program provides children with gifts and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

In its first year, the program reached 300 children and their families. The program has continued to grow each year.

In 2004, the program reached out to more than 4,000 children and their parents.

The Miracle on Church Street program has served more than 35,000 children in the 10 years since it was founded.

The program continues to provide children ages one to 12 with an opportunity to experience the magic of Christmas.

The Miracle on Church Street tradition will continue in 2005 as Anderson tackles the now overwhelming job of providing holiday joy to the underprivileged children of Tucson. The program is run entirely by volunteers and depends on the generosity of the community to continue each year.

Anderson is looking for someone to take over the event in future years.

"I never get any help financially," Anderson said. "It's too much for me."

Despite many obstacles, Anderson will hold the 10th annual event again this year.

Anderson said there are currently no city or state holiday programs that meet the growing needs of Tucson and Northern Pima County children.

"The city should help," she said.

Anderson used to begin planning for the December party in September or October. As the program continues to grow each year, coordinating all of the donations and volunteer efforts take more of Anderson's time and energy. She now begins preparing in January, just shortly after the chaos from the last party has subsided.

Anderson says that volunteers during the Depression inspired her to reach out to others in need.

"That was a devastating time," she said. "There's no excuse for it today."

The Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce honored Anderson as Community Leader of the Year for her involvement in various organizations and programs throughout the community.

"I decide to volunteer my time mostly where I feel I can do the best," she said.

In addition to running the Miracle on Church Street Program, Anderson is also the Pima Council on Aging Volunteer Program chairwoman. She has been a United Way Campaign Associate for 10 years and has volunteered with the Muscular Dystrophy Association for five years.

Anderson is also involved in counseling large and small business clients through the Service Corps of Retired Executives Association. She is the past chairwoman of the group and has worked with them for 19 years. The association provides free and confidential counseling to businesses of all sizes.

Anderson volunteers for many other organizations within the community including Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill Industries and Toys for Tots.

"We all need to reach out," Anderson said. "Believe me, you will touch someone that needs your help."

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