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Westport Sandcastle Makers Aid the Homeless

Jason Wiles built his first Castles in the Sand entry on Westport’s Compo Beach when he was 9 years old. Ten years later, he’s still creating unique sand sculptures in the annual fundraiser for Homes With Hope .

“We’ve done a lot of interesting entries,” Wiles said as he lashed together twigs to form the masts for this year’s entry. In the center of his team’s plot, two large pirate ships squared off across a vortex pulling them down. The image was inspired by a scene in "Pirates of the Caribbean." Wiles smiles and says his skills as an Eagle Scout come in handy as he does the ship’s rigging. “This one is a lot of fun,” he says.

“It’s just such an appropriate event for what we are trying to accomplish,” Jeff Weiser, president and CEO of Homes with Hope and the Interfaith Housing Association, said while greeting people and directing them to their plots. Homes With Hope offers supportive housing options for up to 60 homeless people in Westport every night. “Whether it is just a cot or a bed, or it is a unit of supportive housing it is a castle to somebody,” Weiser said.

Weiser said the Epsteins are the family to watch every year. It happened that one of them, Kenny Epstein, was on “Team Brightfield” with Wiles. When the judges came around, sparklers in the ships’ cannon ports were lit to give pyrotechnic life to the display. The judges were impressed, and when the Golden Shovel for Best Really Big Lot was awarded, Epstein held it high for his team.

In the end, though, it wasn’t about who earned the Golden Shovel award, according to Weiser. The real prize belonged to Homes With Hope. “Half of the real benefit here is getting people aware that there is a homeless shelter in Westport and all the services we offer,” Wesier said.

Did you attend the Castles in the Sand event? Did you make a sandcastle? Tell us about it below.

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