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Clothing to Backpacks, Lori Yutzy Puts It All Together at Wish Project

September 17, 2018

Volunteer Lori Yutzy of Billerica at The Wish Project's new home at 166 Middlesex St. in Chelmsford. She's earning rave reviews for her work. SUN / Julia Malakie Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

This is the latest in The Sun’s “Be a Volunteer” series.

By Rick Sobey

rsobey@lowellsun.com

CHELMSFORD -- Not a day goes by without seeing Lori Yutzy helping out at The Wish Project, says Volunteer Manager Patty Murphy.

Even when the volunteer is not physically there, Yutzy is thinking about tasks to get done for the nonprofit.

“She’s sending people e-mails about diaper drives, and people will then ask me, ‘Does she really do stuff for The Wish Project because she doesn’t have the right end to her email address?’ ” Murphy says.

“I’ll respond to them, ‘Yes, that is Lori. She is very legitimate. She’s very enthusiastic.’ ”

As a result, Murphy nominated Yutzy for this year’s Nonprofit Alliance of Greater Lowell’s Volunteer of the Year award.

Yutzy was a finalist.

“It’s just a tight-knit, great group of volunteers here,” the 46-year-old volunteer from Billerica said last week at The Wish Project’s new location. “It’s like a little family.”

The Wish Project offers baby goods, clothing, household items and more to about 50,000 people in need annually. The nonprofit recently moved to a new warehouse location at 166 Middlesex St. in Chelmsford. They used to be based at Foundry Industrial Park in Lowell.

Before living in Billerica, Yutzy was a preschool teacher in Ohio. Her husband’s job brought them to Massachusetts, and Yutzy looked for volunteer opportunities in the area. She did some volunteer work with Minuteman Senior Services.

Then they moved to Connecticut, where she did some volunteer work at a food bank and for youth/social services.

“That got me to a different genre,” she said. “I enjoyed doing that work.”

They returned to Billerica, and she wanted to find similar volunteer work. Yutzy looked online and came upon The Wish Project.

She sent Murphy an email, filled out an application, and got started in 2016.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Yutzy said.

Director of Operations Jill Maker calls Yutzy the “organizational queen.” They recently put together backpacks for back-to-school, organizing all sorts of supplies in backpacks -- such as pencils, pens, rulers, markers, glue, scissors and more. Agencies collected them and distributed them out to clients.

Yutzy has enjoyed the volunteer work so much and wanted to be part of the organization more. As a result, she became a part-time employee this month.

“She was doing all the work of an employee without getting paid for it,” Murphy said.

Executive Director David Fitzgerald said the nonprofit couldn’t do it without all their “fantastic” volunteers.

“Our volunteers are indispensable,” he said. “We can’t run without them.”

To volunteer at The Wish Project, e-mail Patty Murphy at patty@thewishproject.org .

Check out their Facebook page to learn about when they’re seeking volunteers and what they need for donations.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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