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Warm The Children

After 20 years, Warm the Children volunteer loves it

Marilyn White of Gnfd

Marilyn White of Gnfd Purchase photo reprints »

GREENFIELD — Seventy-six-year-old Marilyn White has been volunteering for Warm the Children for more than two decades and she doesn’t plan to quit any time soon.

“When you see a child’s face after they’ve put on a new winter coat, how can you walk away?” asked White.

Originally from Connecticut, White moved to Greenfield more than 55 years ago, when she married her husband, William White.

She said she started volunteering for Warm the Children when her church, the Second Congregational Church on Court Square, got involved.

“I love working with people, and those who take advantage of this program have always been so grateful,” said White. “We have to take care of all of our children.”

White said there was a time when she and her husband would work around the clock for weeks as volunteers of the program.

“I’ve slowed down a bit, because I have to be home to take care of Bill,” said White.

She said her husband has been ill for about five years, so she had to cut down on her volunteer hours.

“But, I couldn’t stop completely,” she said.

So, this year, as always, she volunteered for at least several hours, helping families and children shop for winter clothes.

“It’s really fun to go around with them and they are so agreeable and cooperative,” she said.

White said what always surprises her is how much need there is throughout the county.

“Warm the Children is such a great way to give of your time and/or money,” said White. “And it all stays here with our neighbors.”

White said she has a friend in Florida who knits mittens throughout the year and sends them to her to donate to the program.

“She sends about 50 pairs,” she said. “Everyone knows how important this is to me.”

White said she loves that she has made many lasting friendships through the program throughout the years.

“And, you know, you never go away without feeling really good after you’ve done something like this,” she said. “I guess that’s the selfish part of it.”

White said she clearly sees, every year, how the program, its volunteers and its organizers make better the lives of people in the community.

“During the winter I’ll be driving along and see a child walking to school wearing a nice, warm winter coat and wonder if it’s one of our children,” said White.

“The community is so small, you really bond with the children and their families,” she said.

White said she used to help in her daughter’s classroom — who teaches locally.

“I’d have children come up to me because they recognized me from Warm the Children and they’d say, ‘See my new coat’ and they’d be all excited,” she said.

White said she has been volunteering for so long, she saw children come in more than 20 years ago who are now bringing their children.

“It really says a lot about our town and our community when you see so many people donate and volunteer,” said White. “These children know they are loved and cared for.”

White said she will continue to volunteer each year until she can no longer move.

“I wait to get the call each year,” she said.

For more than 25 years, children throughout Franklin County have been warmed each winter by the generosity of strangers donating to The Recorder’s Warm the Children.

The annual clothing drive has been serving at least 1,000 children a year.

The Recorder collects the donations, Wilson’s Department Store buys the clothing and coordinates the volunteers — between 40 and 50 a year — and Killeen Perras, who is a community coordinator at the Community Action anti-poverty agency, finds the children who need help.

To donate to Warm the Children, send a check, any time during the year, to: Warm the Children, c/o The Recorder, P.O. Box 1367, Greenfield, MA 01302.

New clothing, especially coats, hats and mittens, may also be dropped off at The Recorder, 14 Hope St. any time during the year.

If you have stories to tell about Warm the Children or plan fundraisers, let us know. Call 413-772-0261, ext 280 or write to afritz@recorder.com.

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