Wilton Opportunities for Giving Tuesday 2020, Dec. 1

Black Friday is followed by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday–admittedly the more material and consumeristic side of generosity during the holiday season. Giving Tuesday provides an opportunity to spread that generosity in an altruistic way, giving the gift of support to organizations that need it to help others.

GOOD Morning Wilton has compiled a list of opportunities for giving back on Giving Tuesday right here in Wilton–organizations that are formally participating in Giving Tuesday as well as others who we’ve included on our own. Please consider helping where you can.

Supporting these organizations financially is critical, but it’s not the only way to join hundreds of millions of people who take part in this global movement. You can give time, skills, and compassion, for an organization, a community, or simply another individual.

As the Giving Tuesday website says, “People can show their generosity in a variety of ways during GivingTuesday–whether it’s helping a neighbor, advocating for an issue, sharing a skill, or giving to causes, every act of generosity counts.”

That’s especially important at a time when isolation, distance, mitigation and prevention are all words getting more use nowadays. Let this serve as a reminder to check in on elderly neighbors, touch base with friends and family who are fighting or recovering from an illness, inquire about what you can do for someone who has experienced a loss.

And remember that while the movement has assigned giving to Tuesday, Dec. 1, it’s something you can do the other 364 days too.

Wilton Library

Coldwell Banker Realty agents present Elaine Tai-Lauria, Wilton Library’s executive director, with a $1,000 check to kick off Giving Tuesday fundraising. Pictured left to right: Bob Travers, library development director Courtney Lilly, Sabrina McGehee, Kathleen Brennan, Gail Cioffi, Tai-Lauria, Cindy Wein, Jessica Batista, and Jeff Turner.

Wilton Library kicks off Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1 with a generous donation from the agents of Coldwell Banker Realty of Wilton. The representatives are donating portions of their commissions to the library in the amount of $1,000 to honor the community and the library.

Courtney Lilly, Wilton Library’s development director, said of the donation, “We are so thankful to this group of Coldwell Banker agents who are selflessly giving to Wilton Library for Giving Tuesday. These are difficult times for everyone, and we’re thrilled that Coldwell Banker is challenging the community to give what they can to Wilton Library, the jewel of the community. The realty group understands that it’s the power of people who can transform their communities, and they are setting an example of that for this special day.”

To give to Wilton Library on Giving Tuesday, donors may simply visit the library’s Giving Tuesday website or main website. Gifts to the library are gifts to every member of the community.

Wilton Wilton Library is a 501(c)(3) non-profit association that receives some of its funding through the public/private partnership with the Town of Wilton, 25% of the library’s budget beyond what the town provides has to be raised each year. Those funds cover 100% of the books, audiobooks, DVDs, and music CDs that are on the shelves and all of the content of the Digital Library, as well as programs and services for all ages.

Ambler Farm

Ambler Farm officials have offered thanks to the farm’s visitors, volunteers and members who have been consistent in their dedicated support, especially in 2020. They say they recognize just how important Ambler Farm has been to the community this year. “The peace and serenity from a walk on the farm or a visit with our animal friends has been critically important for many of us. It provides a sense of normalcy and connection to both the land and one another that we have craved. We are grateful to be able to share it with you safely,” they said.

While COVID-19 restricted Ambler Farm’s ability to run the Summer Camp program, the staff members used their creative talents to revamp and run the Apprentice Program and the farm’s largest fundraiser and fall tradition, Ambler Farm Day. Continued contributions allow the Farm to make these necessary pivots in order to bring the community what it needs when it needs it most.

Donations can be made via the Ambler Farm website.

Wilton Family YMCA

Spend Tuesday night “in” with the Riverbrook Regional YMCA, at a Giving Tuesday Town Hall. Learn how the Wilton Family YMCA puts its mission of serving others into action during the pandemic, supporting those most in need. Hear from leadership about their reimagined vision for the future. There will be a live question and answer period following the presentation with information on how to help keep the YMCA’s good work and legacy alive.

Register for the online, virtual event via the Wilton Family YMCA website. A Zoom link will be sent out on the morning of the event, and participants can log on Tuesday night, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m.

Norwalk River Valley Trail

The Norwalk River Valley Trail (NRVT) announced a matching grant from Building and Land Technology (BLT) for its year-end campaign, “Join our Journey.” BLT will match every donation made from Monday, Nov. 30 to Friday, Dec. 6, up to $5000.

When completed, the NRVT will be a 30-mile trail running from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, through the towns of Wilton, Ridgefield, and Redding, and terminating at Rogers Park in Danbury. The current sections include eight miles of well-loved and frequently visited trail, completed in Norwalk and Wilton only. There are still 22 miles more to build.

In the next year, NRVT is scheduled to build an additional three miles, with sections in Redding, Wilton, and Norwalk. Planning has also begun on an addition to the Wilton East Loop, north of Skunk Lane. Additionally, NRVT has announced the authorization of a new trail section at Tarrywile Park in the City of Danbury.

For every step, funds are needed for permits, wetlands approvals, state/local leases, engineering, trail design, and actual construction. The average cost of construction alone is $250 per foot. While the NRVT does receive grants from the government and foundations, much of the funding comes from local individuals.

Donations can be made on the NRVT’s new website or mailed to Friends of the NRVT, Inc.,
PO Box 174, Georgetown, CT 06829.

“We have seen how important it is to get out into nature during this most challenging year. The NRVT greatly appreciates any size donation and the BLT match will help us continue to move forward,” said Beth Merrill, NRVT’s Executive Director. “The donations we receive are returned to all as more NRVT miles to explore and enjoy!”

BLT property, The CURB, is an NRVT neighbor. The WilWalk section of the NRVT, slated to begin construction in early 2021, is a mere 1,000 feet from the north side of the CURB complex on Glover St. in Norwalk. When WilWalk is completed, the trail will run along the eastern edge of the CURB property, affording easy access to a healthy amenity and retreat into nature.

During the first three months of the COVID pandemic, the NRVT saw trail use spike by over 260%.

Wilton Rocks for Food

With this year’s concert canceled due to restrictions on the size of public events and gatherings, the annual Wilton Rocks for Food fundraiser to benefit the CT Food Bank and the Wilton Food Pantry has gone exclusively online.

Organizer Andy Schlesinger reminds supporters that the effort needs more support than ever, with food banks across the country experiencing record demand due to the COVID crisis and funds running low.

Even without the show, Schlesinger is still hoping to raise $80,000 this year, in a very straightforward way–people can donate via the Wilton Rocks for Food website, which is set up to accept both cash contributions as well as silent auction items. Schlesinger hopes people will be creative in what they offer: “What kind of things do we like? Gift certificates, Wine, Booze, Golf outings, Property Rentals, Artwork, Services (law, accounting, education, yoga, trainers, etc.).,” he told GMW earlier this fall.

The first 100 people who donate $300 or more (the price of a pair of tickets) are guaranteed the option to purchase a pair of tickets to next year’s (Dec. 11, 2021) event (which typically sells out within hours of ticket sales opening up), up until Nov. 15, 2021.

Wilton Go Green

Wilton Go Green is hosting an online event to raise funds to 1) update and grow WGG’s Sustainable Green Business program with the potential to offer start-up grants to small businesses looking to increase their sustainable practices; 2) increase community education around food waste and the potential for a food scrap recycling pilot program; 3) offer a robust Green Speaker Series; 4) design a green-focused scholarship for Wilton High School seniors; and 5) continue to educate school families on zero waste practices for home and school.

Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps

According to its website, “The Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps depends on the generosity of individuals and businesses to operate,”  and items purchased with donated funds include trauma and medical supplies, medical equipment, communications equipment, on-going training, uniforms, upkeep of headquarters, maintaining emergency vehicles, purchase of paramedic vehicles, and more.

Contributors can donate using PayPal or Facebook, via the WVAC website. To send donations via U.S. Mail, checks should be made payable to Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps and sent to 234 Danbury Rd., Wilton, CT 06897.

One other way that WVAC receives support is through the Amazon Smile program. Any purchases made on Amazon using a custom link (or select WVAC as your nonprofit organization in your Amazon account) and Amazon will donate a percentage of any purchase to WVAC at no additional cost.

Circle of Care

Wilton-based Circle of Care has been supporting families of children receiving cancer treatment for the past 17, all made possible through the generosity of donors. Today, as families face a cancer diagnosis on top of a global pandemic, help is needed more than ever.

The organization has set an ambitious goal to raise $100,000 to support its programs and services. Organizers are asking families they serve or friends in their wider circle to do what they can to help spread the word about Circle of Care and reach the goal.

On Giving Tuesday, Circle of Care will be kicking off the day with a special campaign to spread awareness of the challenges families face in a year when both COVID and cancer collide. Donations can be made through the Circle of Care’s Facebook GivingTuesday fundraiser–for which Facebook is offering to match donations 100%.

ABC of Wilton

A Better Chance of Wilton (ABC) is grateful to the community for its continued support of this vital program, which has been part of Wilton for nearly 25 years. The national, non-profit organization’s mission–to increase access to high-quality education for students of color, so that they may achieve positions of responsibility and leadership in American society–was embraced by the community in 1996, when the first ABC scholars enrolled at Wilton High School under the auspices of ABC of Wilton.

But 2020 has brought about many nges and ABC of Wilton began the new school year with new leadership, new students, new dynamics in the house, and plenty of new, COVID-related challenges.

Also this year, the program consolidated its resources with a singular focus on the girls’ house, which added two new freshman scholars who joined three other students, two sophomores and one senior, in the house.

Donations can be made via the ABC of Wilton website.

Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Fairfield County

Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County has become a front line warrior during the coronavirus pandemic, adding on to the service it’s provided to the community for more than 100 years. The non-profit agency provides professional nursing and support services, senior care management, physical rehabilitation, health education, community wellness programs and compassionate hospice care for adults and children in the heart of Fairfield County.

Donations can be made online.

Wilton Social Services

Wilton is a community where need may not be as apparent on the surface, yet it’s ever-present, year after year. The Wilton Food Pantry regularly serves over 300 eligible Wilton residents who struggle to afford food and groceries. In addition, there are approximately 85 children on this year’s Holiday Giving Program list.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the Wilton Social Services department to change the way it usually collects donated resources. In past years, Social Services welcomed donations of items from the public for holiday baskets filled with everything clients would need to celebrate, or specific wished-for gifts for children whose families are clients.

This year, Director of Social Services Sarah Heath told GMW that they can’t risk any possible virus transmission, so rather than accept actual items they hope any residents that would like to donate will do so with a gift card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express) or supermarket gift card.

Checks are also gladly accepted and can be designated for general use or for specific discretionary accounts. Checks should be made out to the Wilton Community Assistance Fund and donors can either write in the memo line or on the envelope Food Pantry, Holiday Gift Program, or Fuel Assistance Program.

Gift cards and checks may be placed in the secure lockbox located outside the door on the lower-level side of the Comstock Community Center building (180 School Rd.).

Non-perishable items are also always welcome for the food pantry. Donations may be placed in the easily accessible shed behind the Comstock building. (Gift cards should not be left in the shed.)

Donations can be made without prior notice, but Heath appreciates an email or a phone call 203.834.6238 in advance, when possible, especially for larger donations.

Smith Magenis Syndrome Research Foundation

Founded by a Wilton resident, Jennifer Iannuzzi, the Smith Magenis Syndrome Research Foundation (SMSRF) was started to advance scientific research leading to innovative treatment options for people living with Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS).

All funds raised will go towards cutting-edge research at McGill University, Yale School of Medicine, and Baylor College of Medicine.

For Giving Tuesday, all donations up to $25,000 will be matched by a generous family, so every dollar helps twice as much. Donations can be made through the SMSRF website.

Trackside Teen Center

This year there are two efforts underway to benefit Trackside Teen Center:  proceeds from the sale of Wilton Strong magnets, created by Wilton teen Billy Bonnist, will support Trackside (as well as the Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps); and various Buddy the Elf fundraising events.

Trackside’s Buddy is reserving four days in December to spread Holiday Cheer in Wilton, either through a personal visit to donors’ homes or at a drive-through event! Buddy will spread smiles, laughter and holiday cheer while safely handing you a cute and festive Lawn Sign and Buddy Basket (baskets and signs may also be purchased separately). Visit the Trackside Teen Center website for more details.

CF Project Inc. (CF Bridge of Hope)

CF Bridge of Hope has a mission to improve and prolong the health and life of Cystic Fibrosis patients in resource-limited areas of the world. Founded by Wilton residents, the wife-and-husband team of Dr. Golnar Raissi-Sadeghi and Dr. Hossein Sadeghi, CF Bridge of Hope ensures that 100% of the donations are used to bring patients from resource-limited countries for evaluation, treatment and care that includes outpatient IV antibiotics, if indicated. There are no administrative costs. Donations will bring hope and will save the lives of helpless, young CF patients. Donations can be made online.

Wilton Historical Society

This year the Wilton Historical Society has continued to engage the community with a rich array of events, workshops, lectures, exhibitions and educational programs–all online.

The organization has maintained its commitment to making Wilton’s past relevant to the community, even though the museum itself, where history comes alive through 12 period rooms, is closed to visitors. Its special collections include toys, tools and trains, which are of interest to a broad audience.

Supporters can give via the Wilton Historical Society website. In addition, going on right now is the renowned, nationally-recognized annual American Artisan Show–offered exclusively online. Every purchase directly benefits the Wilton Historical Society, supporting its mission of education and historic preservation, and is a vital part of keeping alive the tradition of fine hand-made objects.

Shop a carefully chosen mix of highly-skilled artisans from across the country presenting hand-crafted contemporary and traditional furnishings and wearables. Furniture, folk art, pottery, Nantucket-style baskets, candles, Windsor chairs, art, tavern signs, fine jewelry, photography, and much more are now available for purchase.

Woodcock Nature Center

There are multiple ways to support the Woodcock Nature Center, Wilton’s source of environmental and nature education since 1972. The staff, which includes three full-time educators, engages with local youth to teach and develop programming designed to instill a love and respect for nature. They also work with the local protected wildlife to serve as a resource for educating the community about our natural surroundings through public outreach, school field trips and visits, on-site birthday parties and summer camps.

The Woodcock Nature Center receives no governmental funding, so your donations are crucial to the organization’s survival. Options include straight donations, animal adoptions and purchasing items from Woodcock’s online store. Visit the Woodcock Nature Center website for more details.

Stay at Home Wilton

More and more frequently, America’s senior citizens are choosing to remain in their homes and communities as they grow older. Stay at Home in Wilton offers seniors supportive services and resources, along with social and educational programs that unite its members as a community and enhance their efforts to remain independent, active, and connected.

Donations can be made through the Stay at Home in Wilton website.

SPED*NET

Giving Tuesday is a day to celebrate global generosity, champion the issues you care about, and help make meaningful change in your community.

SPED*NET, the Special Education Network of Wilton, Ltd. is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization run by parent volunteers that was launched 20 years ago as a network for information and a life-net for families thrust unexpectedly into the world of special needs. The organization’s mission is to empower parents to become effective advocates for their children.

The group’s numerous presentations and webinars are free and open to the public, and it publishes a guide to special services in Connecticut, Bringing Knowledge to the Table: How to Be an Effective Advocate for Your Child. The guide is designed to support parents in becoming full partners in their children’s education, walking readers, slowly and clearly, through the special services process—from the time parents think their child might be struggling to the time their teen transitions out of high school. The free, on-line version of the guide links readers to current websites, forms, and resources. Printed copies are also available.

There are multiple ways to support SPED*NET via the organization’s website.

Wilton Youth Council

Wilton Youth Council promotes the well-being of Wilton’s students by empowering youth, parents and community.

Growing up has always had its joys and heartaches, but today’s teens confront a new landscape of social media, vaping, and rising rates of anxiety and depression. Wilton Youth Council equips students and parents with skills and information to make healthy decisions. The organization’s professionally-led youth programs provide opportunities for leadership development and drug-free fun. WYC educates and supports parents with inspiring speakers and events, and through collaborations with partner organizations, it creates a greater sense of community and strengthen connections among families.

To donate, visit the Wilton Youth Council website.

Clarification:  an earlier version of the story implied that the Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps is funded ‘almost entirely’ through donations; while donations do provide significant resources to WVAC, president John Miscioscia notes, “The main source of funds come from patient billing and the Town pays for all expenses related to the Paramedics.”