06880

Heartwarming Holidays

“06880” reader Christy Colasurdo sent this important note along.  She says it perfectly — I wouldn’t add a word:

On Thursday I made the last of several trips to Toquet Hall.  Local volunteers were sorting donated clothing, toys, books, CDs and gift cards for our neighbors in need.

This year, Westport’s Human Services Department Holiday Family Giving Program received a record number of requests from families hit hard by the recession.

To fill the need, it took a village. At King’s Highway Elementary School, for example, the kids raised more than $11,000 through bake sales, read-a-thons, even a walk-a-thon.  Everyone was told their efforts would help make the holidays brighter for other kids like them, whose parents had lost jobs or were experiencing financial difficulties. Knowing this, they pushed themselves, and learned that the true spirit of the holiday lies in giving to others.

Next, an army of mom shoppers filled the wish lists of 110 individuals, running to outlet centers, malls, megastores and supermarkets, picking up gift cards, warm jackets, boots, a countertop oven and all sorts of small items for kids and their families. This scenario played itself out at all the elementary and middle schools in town, and at Staples too.

This week, another army of volunteers sorted the goods collected from the schools and other community organizations.   Then Patty Haberstroh, Westport’s real Santa, called her clients and brought them individually into Toquet Hall, where they privately received their early Christmas loot.

Yesterday, a mom came in with her daughters not 5 minutes after a generous client dropped off 2 beautiful new faux-fur-lined parkas that fit both girls perfectly.  An 8-year-old Coleytown student donated all of his birthday gifts to the cause.  These little moments of serendipity bring the efforts home.

People in Westport are proud, and Human Services strives to serve them with the utmost confidentiality and respect.  Although Patty gets to know her clients well, she ensures that they remain anonymous in the community.

The need for donations doesn’t stop at the holidays.  In fact, it ramps up, as many folks are simply too tapped out to consider reaching into their wallets for one more gift.  But  the Human Services Department, located on the 1st floor of Town Hall, gladly accepts donations of cash or gift cards from supermarkets, gas companies, CVS, Walmart—wherever!  Every little bit helps a family stay afloat.

(For more information, call Patty Haberstroh at 203-341-1069.)

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