The Plainfield Ladies Benevolent Society

On Sunday, May 7, 2023, a tea was held at the Shaw-Hudson House, to thank the many years of service given by members of the Plainfield Ladies Benevolent Society (LBS) of the Plainfield Congregational Church. Due to illness and dwindling numbers, the LBS has decided to disband, leaving a wide hole in the hearts of many here in Plainfield.

The LBS had been in continuous existence since before the Civil War, with their first meeting being held on January 19, 1857. At that time the LBS consisted of 18 members with dues being 25 cents. Its mission was to help the community and local organizations with 100 percent of the proceeds it raised. Notes from a 1858 meeting states, “Within the first year the society met twice a month to work on sewing, ‘broding, and knitting. As the articles were fininshed they were given away to those in need or sent to the Five Points House of Industry.” The goals of this institution in New York City, were as follows: To assist the destitute to support themselves, by providing for them employment, protection, and instruction.To provide partial or entire support to children and others incapable of self-support. To imbue the objects of its care with the pure principles of Christianity without bias from the distinctive peculiarities of any individual sect.

Over the years the LBS has donated funds to the Hilltown Food Pantry, The Plainfield Congregational Church, The Shaw-Hudson House, both the Plainfield Police and Fire Departments, and countless area residents in need, just to name a few of their many gifts to our Town.

Long before the days of email, The Plainfield Post was originally distributed by the LBS at the Town Hall on the Thursday before the first and third Friday of the month.

Always a very popular fundraiser was the annual LBS Fair, held on the third Saturday of August, with items donated by Town residents. This event was first started in 1926 as an Apron and Food Sale, with the LBS raising $58.48 the first year and nearly doubling that amount the second, when it was decided to becaome an annual event. This was the LBS’s main fundraiser throughout the years, eventually turning into a tag, book, plant, and baked goods sale, with hundreds of folks attending. Everyone enjoyed the $1 a bag special from all the left overs held on Labor Day Weekend!

The LBS also sponsored the Yule Log Tea, held at the Shaw-Hudson House on the second Sunday of December. The first LBS Yule Log Tea was held December 16, 1973 with Mary Panzeri being the Chair. Members would decorate the house for this festive occasion and provide refreshments. Father Christmas was always sure to attend, handing out Christmas treats and joining in on carols in the parlor. Today the Yule Log Tea continues, sponsored by the Plainfield Historical Society, with the history of the LBS very much in mind.

It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to the LBS and the many services they have provided over the years. It is our belief that what makes our community so special is people’s willingness to offer help to those in need, and to share the joy and compassion for others that we all cherish.

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