Geoff and Noelle Sawyer

Noelle and Geoff Sawyer at Xtreme Screen & Sportswear in Westbrook are in their ninth year of ensuring local kids in need have gifts for Christmas. Robert Lowell / American Journal

A Westbrook business has kindled a brighter Christmas for students in Westbrook who are homeless.

At Xtreme Screen & Sportswear on Main Street, dozens of packages were piled under a tree last week, the result of its ninth annual gift drive for unhoused kids.

“It’s wonderful and sad on the same token,” said Geoff Sawyer, who co-owns the custom screen printing and embroidery business with John Tibbetts.

The Westbrook school district city has 63 students without permanent residences this year, he said.

“Some kids couch surf,” Sawyer said.

His wife, Noelle, oversees the giving tree and nine employees pitch in to help.


“Support from the community is absolutely amazing,” she said.

The schools provide the Sawyers with tags listing needed items for the students, whose names are not used. The tags go on the giving tree in the lobby, and those wanting to contribute a gift pluck one off and donate that item. Contributors include other businesses, customers and non-customers alike.

Some of the tags on the tree are for students without basic essentials. A 13-year-old needed winter boots, for example, and another student asked for socks and underwear. Some asked for driver’s education training.

Students also receive a Christmas stocking filled with traditional stocking stuffers.

Volunteers pick up the gifts and deliver them discreetly to the students’ families, said Katie Garrity, a clinical coordinator at Westbrook High School.

“The Westbrook community comes out strong for this,” said Garrity, who helped Xtreme develop and initiate the project. “We have a lot of families with high needs. It’s sad,” she said.


Donors come from outside of Westbrook, too.

An Xtreme customer from Gorham brings in a check for $3,000 to ensure that every student on the tree will have gifts.

“He does it every year,” Sawyer said.

A Westbrook native and a former basketball coach, Sawyer has witnessed firsthand the need in the community, recalling one of his players who told him he was hungry because he went without food over the weekend.

“Some of the families have nothing,” he said, and he has seen mothers break down in tears when gifts are delivered.

Garrity thanked the donors for their generosity.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said.

“It warms our hearts,” Sawyer said. “Too much negativity in the world.”

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