To the Editor:

We just completed our 20th Annual Make A Difference Day and it was another huge success with thousands of volunteers participating. I would like to thank the Westport Rotary and the Masonic Lodge #65 for their continued sponsorship of this annual volunteer event that funds our drop-in projects. Thanks to Biersdorf for in-kind donations and Bed Bath and Beyond and Michaels for discounting their products that helped our volunteers create 50 toiletry bags for the homeless, 75 comfort bags for abused women and 25 arts-and-crafts kits for children in need and 20 Hug-a-Senior bags. A very special thank you to Bombas Socks who donated 480 pair of socks for the homeless men!

Every year we reach out to our local not-for-profit organizations to ask what they need. For the first time, we ran a diaper drive that benefited the Family and Children’s Agency and the Mercy Learning Center. Diapers and wipes poured in. The response was overwhelming and we thank everyone who contributed including the Staples girls soccer team, Weight Watcher’s Saturday meeting in Norwalk, Westport Weston Family Y and families and individuals.

We completed 33 projects and I would like to thank our student volunteers from Builders Beyond Borders and SLOBS that completed projects for various organizations and students that helped with our drop in projects; Girl Scout troops that collected Halloween Costumes and diapers; Westport Girl Scouts that worked with Soldiers Angels to assemble care packages for women soldiers in the V.A. Hospital; St. Luke’s Church that assembled arts-and-crafts kits for children in need in Bridgeport; Halloween Costumes collections were held around town (Westport Weston Family Y, Caring Council at Kings Highway Elementary School, Girl Scout Troops and individuals); the Y’s Men volunteered at the obstacle run at the Y; the congregation from the Assumption Church held their annual sock drive for the homeless. Thanks to Halloran & Sage LLP for collecting diapers. The Volunteer Day at the Children’s Community Development Center is among many of our projects that have become a staple of our day and we thank the parent volunteers.

This year we had an outpouring of individuals and families who joined us and I am so grateful for their help. The list is very long, so I am unable to thank all of you individually. Every year we have people out volunteering and forgetting to tell us who you are and what you did. Let me know at makadif@aol.com.

The success of Make A Difference Day comes from, not only our volunteers who work on projects, but people and organizations that help in other ways. The organizing committee, Pam Askinazi, Ann Campbell, Nancy Lewis, Barbara Murray, Johanna Rossi and Cindy Wormser, did an amazing job this year and helped us expand our efforts to create new projects and recruit volunteers. Thanks to Miggs Burroughs for designing our brochure and the Christ and Holy Trinity Church’s Branson Hall for being our headquarters site on the day; Frank Rac for his continued help in “running around town” so that it all got done!

Special thanks to the Town of Westport and our First Selectman, Jim Marpe, for his continued support and encouragement and help at our drop-in projects. The Town of Westport and its residents should take enormous pride in their participation in Make A Difference Day and the projects that not only help those in need in our town but those beyond our borders. We need to continue with this mission. See you all next October!

Barbara Pearson-Rac

Chairman of Make A Difference Day