Woog’s World: The ABCs of holiday giving — Part 2

Sure, “Woog’s World” throws stones. When something goes wrong in Westport, we (well, I) don’t hesitate to call them (or us) out.

But this is the holiday season. It may (or may not) be the most wonderful time of year. You may (or may not) have a holly, jolly Christmas. But it is a time when those of us whom fortune has smiled upon can do our fair share for those whom fortune has failed.

‘Tis the season to be jolly. ‘Tis the season too to receive gifts. And, of course, to give them.

Last week I offered a baker’s dozen of organizations, non-profits and charities that could use our help. There are thousands in Connecticut alone. I kept my focus on Westport, and very close by. Completely arbitrarily, I listed them alphabetically. I chose one for each letter, starting with “A.”

I got through the middle of the alphabet. Here is Part 2.

NOTE: If your organization is not on the list, it’s not that it’s unworthy. The list of great groups is very long. I promise to create a similar column, with other ideas, next year. Just let me know who your group is, and what you do.

N: Neighborhood Studios. Based in Bridgeport, with great support from Westporters, they provide art, music and dance education, by experienced and talented professionals, to children and teenagers who otherwise might not have access to it. Some later pursue careers in arts; all are enriched by their experiences. NStudios.org

O: Open Doors Shelter. For decades they have helped people in the greater Norwalk area, guiding them from homelessness to housing stability. OpenDoorsCT.org

P: Pink Aid. Breast cancer is physically, emotionally and financially devastating. Prink Aid helps patients - and their families - by providing financial assistance and services, so they can undergo treatment with support and dignity. PinkAid.org

Q: Taking the “Q” in LGBTQ: Triangle Community Center. For 30 years they’ve provided education, peer support, counseling, medical services and more to the LGBTQ community. TCC’s warm, welcoming Norwalk center offers a safe space for people of all ages who come out - and long after they’ve left the closet. CTPRideCenter.org

R: Remarkable Theatre: A spur-of-the-moment COVID project turned into a beloved Westport entertainment venture. The theater is a drive-in at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. The 40-foot screen shows classic comedies, dramas, action films and more. The non-profit pays it forward by hiring people with disabilities to help each night. RemarkableTheater.org

S: Staples Tuition Grants. Since handing out its first $100 scholarship in 1943, Staples Tuition Grants has helped thousands of people attend college. Last year they awarded $350,000 to 129 Staples seniors and current college students, attending 77 different schools. Awards range up to $5,000. Even in a town like Westport, many students would not go to college without STG. StaplesTuitionGrants.org

T: The Susan Fund. Named for Staples High School graduate Susan Lloyd, it provides college scholarships to Fairfield County residents diagnosed with cancer. Since the 1980s, the Susan Fund has awarded 846 grants to 285 students. TheSusanFund.org

U: United Way of Coastal Fairfield County. Their 21st-century approach empowers people in innovative ways, helping them overcome obstacles to opportunity “We are not our parents’ United Way,” the organization says, citing their emphasis on “impact philanthropy.” UnitedWayCFC.org

V: Volunteer Emergency Medical Service. For more than 40 years they’ve provided personnel, supplies, vehicles, training and more, keeping the town (and everyone who lives, works or passes through it) safe. Few Westporters realize that Westport’s VEMS must raise all its own funds too. WestportEMS.org

W: Way too many to pick from. Do you know how many organization names start with “Westport”? So I’ll go with perhaps the most historic: Westport Country Playhouse. For more than 90 years they’ve offered great entertainment, in a special setting. The WCP evolved from a summer springboard to Broadway, to a venue with a longer season and provocative programming. Too often, we take this Westport gem for granted. WestportPlayhouse.org

X: The opposite of W. No local organizations start with “X” - at least, none I can think of.

Y: YMCA. The Westport Weston Y does it all. Fitness, swimming, yoga, basketball, dance, gymnastics, childcare, a family outdoor center and summer camp, outreach to people with disabilities and in need, a social responsibility fund - and that only scratches the surface. WestportY.org

Z: Like X, no local organization starts with Z. But that’s okay. Last week and this, I’ve given you two dozen ideas for holiday (and tax-deductible!) contributions. A gift to any of them, or one of your own favorite non-profits, will go further than you can imagine. Any group is grateful for any gift, in any amount.

Come to think of it, this really is the mot wonderful time of the year.

Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at dwoog@optonline.net. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.