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Make a Difference series enters 10th year of helping the community

For many, the days before Thanksgiving are full of chaos as families prepare for their turkey feast. At The Day, it marks the beginning of an annual tradition that truly "makes a difference" for area families in need.

The Make a Difference series is entering its 10th year. Local organizations submit information about an individual or family they work with who could use a little extra help, The Day publishes each miniature profile and readers donate to the organizations on that person's or family's behalf.

Two years ago, the series connected two area women: one impacted by the recent death of her mother to cancer and another who was starting a new life in a new apartment.

Just days after her mother, Vicki, died, Lexis Foster saw the entry from the New London Homeless Hospitality Center and decided to honor her mother by donating her items to the woman in the profile. She said Vicki had been a very giving person and frequently volunteered at soup kitchens and animal shelters, and she would have wanted her apartment furniture and appliances to help someone in need.

The Arc New London County also received double its usual donations in 2015 to support a 35-year-old woman who had been abandoned by her family. In addition to the more than $1,000 in items and gift cards, the organization also received stuffed animals and dolls, things people in need often don't expect or ask for.

Last year, Thames River Family Program in Norwich submitted information about a single mother of five children who recently experienced domestic violence, homelessness and two surgeries. She came to the group to regain stability for her family and asked for clothing, movies and toys for her children.

Shanda Easley, program manager at Thames River Family Program, said the family is doing well, and the mother was surprised and grateful for the items donated by readers.

St. Vincent de Paul Place featured Brady, a 26-year Army veteran who was asking for help repairing his van and items for his newly acquired apartment. Executive Director Jillian Corbin said the response to his needs was "awesome," and his work training program placed him at the center.

Brady said he got car insurance and a new vehicle to replace his van, as well as a computer, a bed and other items for his apartment. He works security at St. Vincent de Paul Place and helps Corbin with whatever she needs done.

"For 17 years, I was like a nomad, not getting no help from nobody," he said. Of the assistance and generosity of others, he said, "It felt good. It gave me a better outlook on life."

This year's Make a Difference series is scheduled to run every day through Dec. 21.


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