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Community Donates Food to Those in Need

With help from generous members of the community, Westport's Sunrise Rotary Club collected 316 bags of groceries Saturday for two food pantries in town.

Delivered Saturday night, the groceries will help restock selves at Homes With Hope's Gillespie Center, an emergency homeless shelter, and the Westport Woman's Club Food Closet, which provides groceries for needy families.

"It was a huge success," Rotarian Bill Blaufuss said. "This is not our food drive, it's the community's: we're just the facilitators. The fact that people gave so generously really makes it their food drive."

From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Rotarians working in two-hour shifts manned the busiest entrance at Stop & Shop, handing out shopping lists with suggested nonperishable items to donate.

Rotarian Jeffrey Mayer, who worked an afternoon shift, said he was happy to see so many people helping.

"People have been incredibly generous," Mayer said. "In our community, economic diversity is very real. Many people don't realize there are economically disparaged people living in Westport."

Rotary Club members estimate each of the 316 bags contained about $20 worth of food. That means more than $6,000 worth of food was collected.

For the food pantries, that's good news.

"It's fantastic," said Jeff Wieser, president and CEO of Homes With Hope. "Our pantry is pretty low right now, and we need a constant supply because it goes fast, especially lately. We're lucky to be one of the recipients of this food. It really helps a lot."

Wendy McKeon, co-chairwoman of the Westport Woman's Club Food Closet, said the organization is grateful for the donations.

"We've been blessed with so much food," she said. "Today [Saturday] was one of those days were you say you're really proud to live in Westport. The generosity of the town was unbelievable."

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