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Bloomer Girls: Helping townspeople in need for over 60 years

Upton Bloomer Girls in the town’s Memorial Day parade – wearing bloomers is not required. Courtesy photo LOGOS from their FB page

By Linda Chuss

 In 1960, at the 225th anniversary celebration of Upton’s founding, a group of firefighters and police, The Brushmen, challenged a group of women to a softball game as a charity fundraiser. The women embraced the era being commemorated by wearing uniforms with red bloomers and white dustcaps. Bloomers are long, loose trousers women wore as undergarments up until the 1920s. Now, even the word “bloomers” is nearly obsolete, but the legacy of giving started by the Bloomer Girls that day has persisted for over half a century.

“My mother was one of the original Bloomer Girls, and I started then as a Bloomerette,” said Donna (Bates) MacNaughton, who has served as the group’s president for the past 10 years. “They raised $20 at the game and decided to continue helping people in need.” Their mission is, to the best of their ability, to offer resources, helping hands, or other assistance to current Upton residents in need of additional support. They deliver assistance in a way that is respectful and maintains a person's privacy and dignity.

“For example, we help people with utility or medical bills,” MacNaughton said. “Upton’s Senior Center, churches, and guidance counselors at school let us know who has needs. When a family member is ill, or at the holidays, we provide gift cards so they can have meals and presents. We send ‘thinking of you’ cards to people needing to feel supported.”

Those served often write notes of appreciation. One such letter expressed, “Your generous check plus the Walmart gift card helped me buy some groceries and pay some money on my electric bill.” Gifts to a military family were acknowledged with, “It means a lot to receive community support during the holidays as we are not near our families.”

Besides aid and support, the Bloomer Girls sponsor “Meet the Candidates” night, award scholarships (including for vocational continuing education), and help sort food donations at local churches.

To raise money, the Bloomer Girls sponsor the Fall Fair each November, collecting fees from vendors and earning proceeds from sales at their own Grandma’s Attic and Country Kitchen there. The rest of the year, selling baked goods at events in town, a fuel raffle, and general donations contribute to their fund.

“Word gets out there about how we help people. We currently have 59 members and welcome more.” For anyone interested in joining, the group meets the first Monday of the month at the VFW.

For more information, visit them on Facebook @UptonBloomerGirls1