As the school busses begin to roll again, the Westport Department of Human Services would like to thank all those individuals, groups, teams and agencies who made this past summer brighter for hundreds of children and families in Westport and Weston.

Westport and Weston families who met income eligibility guidelines were invited to participate in the Campership and Back to School Programs, both funded primarily through community donations to the Westport Families in Need Fund through the Department of Human Services. These donations supplemented the many camp scholarships given by the organizations themselves.

With the cooperation and financial support of many, more than 500 weeks of "camperships" to various local day camps, sleep-away camps and other programs were enjoyed by 116 Westport/Weston children from 83 families. Special thanks go to the Westport Parks and Recreation Department, Camp Mahackeno Outdoor Center of the Westport Weston Family Y, Westport Continuing Education, Longshore Sailing School, Westport Arts Center and Peak Performance for their hundreds of weeks of camp scholarships. Further afield, generous scholarships were given by YMCA Camps Jewell, Hi-Rock, Mohawk, Hazen and Woodstock as well as other camp programs.

During the first week of August, the Human Services Department conducted its "Back to School" program, in which 100 Westport families with 188 children were able to choose backpacks and supplies for the new school year, as well as receiving a gift card for new shoe purchases.

In addition, Athletic Shoe Factory and Winged Monkey in Westport donated hundreds of clothing items and shoes to our clients, affording many students brand new "first day of school" outfits. Since the program has grown so big, a call for help was sent out and 20 Westport teenagers gave up one day of their vacation opening cartons, hanging clothes, and setting up the items for the families to choose from.

For both programs, in addition to over 80 wonderful individual donors, the department would like to thank the PTAs of all eight Westport schools, Toquet Hall, the Westport Police Benevolent Association, the Westport-Weston Foundation, the Hurlbutt Foundation, the Grace Salmon Foundation, Westport Sunrise Rotary, the Westport Rotary Club, the Westport Young Woman's League, Assumption Church, Christ and Holy Trinity Church, and SAGA Communications for their generous donations.

The efforts of all these wonderful people and organizations remind us once again how fortunate we are to live here.

Barbara Butler, director

Westport Department

of Human Services