While the holiday season may be behind us, the joy continues on in many Westport homes. The Department of Human Services thanks the hundreds of donors who contributed to the Westport Holiday Giving Program as well as helping out at Thanksgiving time. Whether it was by purchasing the gift list for a single mom and child or a large family, donating toys, books, movie certificates, food baskets, turkeys or a gift card, your generosity helped make this year one of the most successful ever for our own neighbors -- despite the difficult economic climate.

Specific thanks must go to each of the eight PTAs and their students for organizing their individual giving efforts, the Westport Woman's Club which purchased and mailed out food gift cards, holiday cards to nursing home residents and catered meals for those alone for the holidays, Goodwill Industries which donated turkey dinners with all the "fixins," the girls at Project Return who bought gifts for a young child, and First Night Westport/Weston which generously provided free admission buttons to welcome the New Year.

In addition, generous donations were received from Iridian Asset Management, Sterling Investment Partners, Athletic Shoe Factory, the Westport/Weston Foundation, the Hurlbutt Foundation, the Social Concerns Committee of Assumption Church, Girl Scouts, Westport/Weston Family Y, The Rebecca Chusid Holiday Toy Drive, Winged Monkey, Weichert Capital Properties, Service League of Boys (SLOBS), the National Charity League (NCL) and the Playschool at Staples. In addition, over 125 individual community donors, including 12 municipal employees and commission members filled holiday gift lists. Once again, this entire program could not have happened without the tremendous efforts of our administrative assistant, Margaret Pinheiro and our holiday volunteer coordinators, elves Kathy Lehn and Madeline Saxonmeyer.

Through the Holiday Giving Drive alone, 464 individuals, including 272 children, were served directly from this community support. This generosity is especially appreciated due to the increase in those needing asistance during this holiday season, reflecting our current tough economic times and the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

We fully recognize that the Holiday Program comes at perhaps the busiest time of year for all of us, and that makes the efforts that much more wonderful. Thank you on behalf of those whose holidays were brightened because of you.

Barbara H. Butler, director

Westport Department

of Human Services