More than 1,500 residents of Westport, Conn., took part in the city’s 17th Make A Difference Day. A total of 19 projects were carried out that day. Among them, these volunteers with Builders Beyond Borders who constructed raised planting beds and laid down wood chips a community farm project .
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In their 17th year of participation, 1,500 residents from this town of 26,000 rallied to help struggling neighbors. A total of 19 projects — ranging from clearing nature trails to packing “comfort bags” for abused women — were carried out that day.
Make A Difference Day “has become part of our culture,” says project chairwoman Barbara Pearson-Rac. “It’s what Westport does in October.”
The town won the National Make A Difference Day Award in 2006. This time around, Girl Scouts crafted toys for guide dogs. Boy Scouts hauled debris off an island in Long Island Sound. A crew of SLOBs, the Service League of Boys, planted flowers to beautify a women’s shelter. Builders Beyond Borders created a community garden in a poor area of neighboring Bridgeport.
Halloween was happier for needy kids served by the Family & Children’s Agency of Norwalk — including six siblings whose home was flooded by Hurricane Sandy — thanks to a collection of at least 150 costumes by Westport elementary schools. Volunteers also donated 600 pairs of socks for the agency’s homeless clients.
Food was a special focus because “pantries were empty,” says Pearson-Rac. Stationed outside a Stop & Shop market on Make A Difference Day, Sunrise Rotary Club members asked shoppers to buy peanut butter and canned goods for the Homes With Hope homeless shelter. Five SUV loads were delivered, amazing CEO Jeff Wieser. “Boy, did that move the needle at our pantry!” he says. “This was the biggest single-day food drive I’ve seen. Westport is a small town with a huge heart.”