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Giving Back Locally During the Holidays

Patch asked several community leaders what the best ways are to give back to a community that appears prosperous, but in reality has serious, unmet needs.

This holiday season, chances are you've been approached for donations for Toys for Tots, the Evergreen Network or another presents-based organization that brings cheer to those whose everyday lives need it most. While no one can deny the appeal of imagining the joy on a child's face while opening up a much-longed-for Christmas present, local residents need your help too, and in ways that extend beyond playing a bearded man in a red suit.

and the Community Service Coalition cooperatively launched a new initiative aimed at improving recovery efforts following a town emergency. 

According to Charlene Chiang-Hillman, Director of Social Services, volunteers will be asked to donate time to the town following an emergency event, such as the recent snowstorm that caused most residents to lose power for a prolonged period of time.

"Volunteers might be asked to man a town comfort station, answer emergency phone lines [or] check on neighboring senior residents," Chiang-Hillman told Patch. "Anyone interested in being on the emergency volunteer list" should contact Chiang-Hillman at 203-222-2663, or at chillman@westonct.gov.

Wendy Petty, community liaison for the coalition, indicated that recruiting volunteers for the emergency preparedness team is the organization's top priority; however, residents interested in contributing time to a one-off project can register with the coalition, which advises volunteers promptly if a resident needs help. 

Recent projects include helping at the Senior Center, assisting with yardwork and computer work, and pet care.

Residents who would like to help or need help should contact Petty at wpetty7511@aol.com.

, one of Weston's philanthropists, encouraged residents to donate to the Weston Warm-Up Fund and the Weston Dress Closet.

"You can only put on so many sweaters when you are cold," Egan told Patch.

The Warm-Up Fund accepts contributions of cash as well as firewood; firewood sale proceeds are directed to the Fund, which defrays heating expenses of qualified local families.

"With state funding completely eliminated and everyone fighting for the much-reduced federal funding, this year will be our hardest year ever," Egan observed.

The fund accepts contributions at Weston Warm-Up Fund, P.O. Box 1254, Weston, Conn. Those in need of heating assistance can contact Egan at jdweston@optonline.net.

Egan also runs the Weston Dress Closet, a terrific resource for local teenagers and tweenagers who need a dress or suit for a special occasion. 

"There is no need for families to spend unnecessary funds for children to attend wonderful events," Egan noted. "A young adult can now just shop and make a $5 donation that benefits Weston Social Services."

Located at Egan's home, the closet has a wide selection of clothes for young men and women in a variety of sizes, styles and colors. Those who borrow can use the clothes as long as necessary.

Alternatively, the Weston Food Pantry, located near the firehouse on Norfield Road, is in regular need of basic supplies. In addition to canned goods, cereals, and breads, consider hygienic goods such as soap, razors and toothpaste. Pet food is also appreciated.

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