SKOWHEGAN — Hundreds of children and teenagers across central Maine will have presents awaiting them Christmas morning thanks to the efforts of a small group of women in the Skowhegan area.

The Sweet Dreams Project is led by Debora Tanner, a teacher at Skowhegan Area Middle School who began the effort six years ago.

Those efforts first paid off in 2016, when Tanner was able to provide a book and set of pajamas to each of 114 children and teens. The initiative has grown and now benefits more than 150 families. Tanner said more than 425 young people will wake up Christmas morning to presents — at least five gifts for each recipient.

They will receive toys, reading material, clothing and other gifts.

“People are so generous, not only with their donations but with their money,” Tanner said. “Donations came from as far west as Colorado and as far south as Florida.”

Tanner said local groups, including the Skowhegan Samplers, Gifford’s Ice Cream and the Skowhegan Education Association, have donated items, including handmade quilts, hats and afghan blankets.


Tanner and Lisa Duguay, Kim Smart and Tanner’s daughter, Kayley Brown, picked up gifts Wednesday from the Skowhegan Federated Church.

Preparations began in October, with Tanner and Brown working to put together gifts made possible by monetary donations collected year-round.

Tanners and others plan to go out shopping after the holidays to buy discounted wrapping supplies and gift bags to replenish their supplies for next season. Donations are accepted at the Skowhegan church.

“We’re hoping to (hold a) toy drive in July,” Tanner said. “We want to be able to provide gifts of the same caliber next year.”

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