Sunday, Waterford Youth Services held its annual open house, where all the presents being donated to the 104 “adopted” Waterford families were shown off to whoever wanted to stop by.
Waterford Youth Services each year finds Waterford families who cannot afford Christmas and sets them up with people and organizations in the community willing to donate. Sunday night, they showed off the hundreds of wrapped presents donated to the needy families, as more were served this year than at least the two years before. Along with presents, the families are given a full Christmas meal as well.
“We had 104 families this year, and we have three families pending, so it might be 107,” Waterford Youth Services Director Dani Gorman said. “And last year we had 103.”
Scattered along the presents and food available for people who came by were stories of people giving for a wide range reasons. For one, there was Tony and Ann Gigliotti, who donated in memory of their son.
Their son Jason died in 2008 at the age of 35 and they wanted to keep his memory alive by donating money in his honor. Each year, they hold a golf tournament in his name to raise money and donate $500 raised - just part of the money, as the rest goes to other causes - to Waterford Youth Services.
This year, they used that money to buy Giants and Red Sox gear, their son’s two favorite teams, for needy Waterford children. Tony Gigliotti, formerly First Selectman of Waterford, said they do it to ensure their son will not be forgotten.
“We do it in his memory for his name to continue,” Gigliotti said.
He added that he knew Gorman and the rest of the Waterford Youth Services’ crew does a great job and said it is a great program. Also, it helps out kids, Gigliotti said.
“We love kids,” he said. “And look at what (Gorman) can do here.”
CLMS Gives Back
Speaking of children, 12-year-olds Kaylee Wilcox and Brianna Borysewicz came together to raise $550 for the program. The two Clark Lane Middle School students held a spare coin drive and had one of their mothers sell 31 bags to raise the money, and the two also helped wrap all the presents.
“We know families need help,” Borysewicz said. “So we figured we’d do this.”
Many classes at Waterford’s three elementary schools, Dominion, Electric Boat, Patch and other companies “adopted” families for the event. Also, Jared Jewelers donated dozens of teddy bears for the event and the Red Cross gave dozens of blankets.