No Yule bells jingled last week at Longshore Inn and the weather outside wasn't frightful with snow. But it seemed like Christmas had arrived about six months early.

That's because Westport Rotary, headed by Robin Hammond, came bearing $40,000 in gifts for three dozen community groups.

After the gift-giving, Hammond herself was presented with a coveted Paul Harris Fellow Award from Rotary for instituting the program benefiting community organizations. The award is named in honor of the Chicago lawyer who started Rotary in 1905.

The money distributed during Westport Rotary's weekly luncheon program will help fill gaps in the community groups' budgets , according to Hammond.

Here's a sampling of the organizations given checks by Westport Rotarian Rick Benson:

• ABC -- A Better Chance of Westport. The organization provides opportunities for motivated young men and women of color. They live in Westport, attend Staples High School and participate in town activities. The participating students are identified through the national A Better Chance program

Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition. The group works to "bridge the gap between the two Connecticuts," according to its stated mission. Some 960,000 children across the nation live in poverty -- 9,500 of them in Bridgeport, according to BCAC. Bridgeport's young need its advocacy, according to the organization, because the city is a place where "One in four children live in poverty; two in three children are in overcrowded classrooms; one in five freshmen drop out before graduation; each year over 400 Bridgeport children live in homeless shelters."

• Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service. "When you see a Westport ambulance rushing by, or if you need to dial 9-1-1 for a medical emergency, the ambulance is always primed and ready, the experienced volunteer crew is trained and professional, the equipment is state of the art," according to the emergency medical corps. Financed by community support, Westport EMS operates with a volunteer crew of 150.

Until more pressing demands were made on his time, First Selectman Gordon Joseloff was a regular on the EMS crew.