Tuesday, Dec. 3, has been officially designated giving day — and there is no time those in need can use the help more than the holiday season.

For one thing, it is cold out. Those struggling to find shelter or in need of warm clothing for themselves or their families need help more than ever as a New England winter approaches.

Darien offers many opportunities for residents to help their fellow man or local causes. Often, charities use their year-end donation tallies as a basis to apply for grants and endowments, so December is a good time to donate. There’s also Fairfield County Giving Day, which is officially in February, during which local charities participate and compete for matching funds.

For December, though, residents interested in helping others have a good holiday season have several options.

The Darien Youth Commission, the Darien Human Services Department, and the movie theater are sponsoring this year’s community movie, Disney’s latest release: “Frozen 2.” Running time of this film is 1 hour 49minutes.

The movie, which will start at 4:15 is “free,” however in lieu of payment, each movie-goer is asked to bring donations as follows: a new toy, books, games, gift cards (e.g. Amazon; Barrett Bookstore; Walmart; CVS; Walgreen’s; Target; local eateries; etc.), etc. And don’t forget our teen population when selecting your gift donation. All items should be new and unwrapped with a value of at least $15 each.

Every year during the holidays, Darien Human Services provides toys, gifts, clothing and gift cards to these families and seniors in need. The department’s Gingerbread Man Tree located in the lobby of Town Hall is decorated with colorful gingerbread men labeled with various gift ideas. Those ideas include gift cards to local restaurants, supermarkets, clothing stores for warm clothes, gas stations to help with a work commute, or just a straight donation to the Department of Human Services.

Darien’s Person-to-Person has two programs for the holidays.

The Dove program has been coordinated by Person-to-Person for more than 40 years and provides a full day of food at the holidays for approximately 800 seniors or families. Local churches display paper doves representing a family or individual in need. Congregants then choose a dove, shop for the groceries listed and wrap them all up in large Christmas boxes. Twenty churches in the surrounding area participate.

A holiday “store” is set up for clients who have visited P2P at least six times during the year. New age-appropriate toys and books are displayed so clients can “shop” for a free gift and book for their child plus a board game for the family.

Also, if you’re purging clothing for expected new gifts, donating your warm and/or gently used clothing to Person-to-Person or the Darien Community Assocation’s Thrift Shop can go far to help those in need.

Visit https://p2phelps.org/

services/holiday-programs for more information.

Those shopping for the holidays can also make a donation to the Community Fund of Darien while doing so.

Starting Amazon purchases with smile.amazon.com/ch/06-0737286 means a percentage of your purchases support the Community Fund of Darien.

In addition to its many other charitable and community endeavors, the Community Fund’s “Touch a Life” fund assists Darien residents with urgent financial needs. In cooperation with the Department of Human Services, The Community Fund of Darien will pay essential bills for Darien residents in need (up to $500 per emergency/client). Payments are made directly to the vendor on behalf of the client. For residents in need of assistance, contact Darien’s Department of Human Services.

The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County also serves Darien and the surrounding area and is also participating in the Amazon purchase percentage.

By visiting smile.amazon.com and selecting “The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County,” the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of eligible purchases to the Food Bank.

The Food Bank provides nutritious food to nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry in Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford and Wilton, while seeking to raise awareness of, and promote action to combat, hunger in those communities. It provides food for low-income residents of the six town area we serve through approximately 75 member agencies and programs. Donations can be made at its warehouse in Stamford or larger donations can be picked up.

Palmer’s Market in Darien also donates food on a weekly basis to Person-to-Person, as well as public schools, local fire departments, Darien/Norwalk YWCA, and National Veterans.

One of Darien’s most moving holiday traditions is Wreaths Across America. The wreath laying ceremony this year will be held at noon on Dec. 14 at the Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery. Last year, a wreath covered almost every one of the 2,184 graves in the veterans’ section of the Spring Grove Cemetery. If you are interested in volunteering to support the event, please email John Carter at jcarter233@gmail.com.

To sponsor a wreath, visit https://www.wreathsacross

america.org/ and search for Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery, Darien.

There is certainly no shortage of locations for donating toys to the U.S. Marine Corps. Toys for Tots program. In Darien, Noroton Fire Department is once again a sponsor of the program. Interested donors can drop off new, unused toys or call for a larger pickup by a fire truck at 203-943-8649 or email nfdmembership@gmail.com.

Helen Ainson is also holding its fifth annual Toys for Tots fashion show on Dec. 4 from 6 to 8:30 p.m., and many other local businesses are collecting in Darien.

For more information on Toys for Tots, visit https://www.


Certainly, there are many worthy causes in Darien all year round. In addition to the above, nonprofits make residents’ lives more whole and enriched in many ways, with organizations such as the Depot Youth Center, the Darien Arts Center, the Darien Community Association, Darien YMCA, the YWCA Darien/Norwalk, the Darien Historical Society, the Darien Library, the Center for Hope, Darien Book Aid, the Darien Foundation, Tiny Miracles, 100 Who Care Darien, At Home in Darien, and the Darien Police Association and the Firefighters’ Foundation.

Sometimes the best gift to ourselves during the holiday season is one we make of ourselves — whether it is our time, our clothing, toys or food donations, or monetary donations. The smallest gesture that makes a difference in another’s life can make a difference in ours.

If you are coordinating a fundraiser or holiday donation campaign, we can help spread the word. Email editor@darientimes