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People go ‘above and beyond’ to Make A Difference for those in need

December 23, 2018

A single mother with three children was in tears this week when she picked up gifts for her children from The Salvation Army of Norwich.

The family had been displaced due to financial struggles, and the mother had been worried about how hard it would be to both provide Christmas gifts for her kids and still have money to save for a security deposit for a new place for them to live, said Lt. Cheryl McCollum, corps officer with The Salvation Army Norwich Corps.

But thanks to people who responded to a request for clothing and toys for the children through The Day’s Make A Difference series, her stress was eased and the children will have many gifts this holiday.

“Everyone went above and beyond for this family,” said McCollum, expressing appreciation to everyone who participated.

The annual Make A Difference series highlights the needs of people in the region and began 11 years ago. This year, nearly 30 local agencies referred clients in need and The Day featured their stories in articles that began on Nov. 18 and wrapped up in mid-December.

Representatives of local agencies reported that the donations helped with their clients’ needs, including by enabling them to buy professional clothing for a job interview, providing them with warm clothes for the winter and assisting them with heating bills and grocery costs.    

The New London Housing Authority had a “great turnout” for an elderly man living in Gordon Court state-subsidized housing who had holes in his shoes and needed attire for the winter season, Assistant Property Manager Shirley Smith said. People donated coats, boots, sneakers, scarves, hats, socks and underwear.

“I think it’s really going to help him so much and make a difference in his well-being and lift his spirits to let him know people do care,” she said.

The Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut received about $775, between gift cards and checks they used to buy gift cards, and hoped by the end of the week to help about 10 to 12 people struggling to make ends meet with heating bills and other expenses, office manager Mimi Perl said. 

One woman used a gift card to get special sized shoes and clothes to fit a tall frame, so she could go on a job interview. Another individual purchased some needed pots and pans with a gift card.

“They’ve been very thrilled we were able to give this to them,” Perl said.

The Arc New London County also experienced the generosity of local residents. Stella, a local woman with an intellectual disability who had just been in the hospital for pneumonia, and Ginny, her friend and caregiver, struggled to pay for both heating costs and groceries on a fixed income.

But they received assistance for those expenses, along with new towels, nightgowns, warm slippers and throw blankets that “will make this holiday one of the best Stella and Ginny have had,” agency CEO Kathleen Stauffer said.

Stella and Ginny also hoped for a small, newer TV to replace their 30-year-old one. Stauffer said they not only received a new TV, but so many people offered to help that another family in need of a TV also received one.

“It is heartening to see so many people reaching out and changing lives,” Stauffer said. “And the gratitude of Stella and Ginny is no less heartwarming. The Day really does make a difference with this holiday appeal. Every year it brightens lives and leads to smiles, wonderful and practical donations and lots of good cheer. Thank you, New London County!”

k.drelich@theday.com

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