‘It was an awesome experience’
Volunteer recalls joy of kids getting clothing
MONTAGUE — When Joanne Reipold of Montague spent three days this fall at the Franklin County Fairgrounds helping families shop for winter clothing, she realized how many families and children in the community are in need.
“I was amazed,” Reipold said. “I knew there were a lot of families and children in need, but the happiness the kids had. They were jumping for joy. They wanted to put their coats on right away. It was a good, heartfelt experience for me.”
It was Reipold’s first time volunteering as a shopper for The Recorder’s Warm the Children campaign this year after she saw an advertisement in the paper. For three days in September, she helped children pick out coats, mittens, sweaters and snow pants at the Warm the Children fund “store,” which is run by The Recorder’s collaborator in the drive, Wilson’s Department Store.
For more than 26 years, the paper’s Warm the Children campaign has raised money to buy clothes for about 1,000 children in the community each year. The newspaper partners with Wilson’s, which buys and distributes the clothes, and anti-poverty agency Community Action, which finds the families in need.
“The children are so happy to have something so simple we all take for granted,” Reipold said. “I can’t imagine having to wait for an organization to make sure children are warm, the worry the parents must have to wonder if they will be chosen. What do those children do who aren’t chosen?”
As she helped children pick out their coats, Reipold noticed how grateful parents and their children were for what they received.
“It’s not a give-away. It’s help. It means they can put an extra loaf of bread on the table,” Reipold said.
If Reipold had a wish, it would be for every person in the community to give $1 to Warm the Children.
“We could probably buy every child in our own community a coat. That is all it would take. Give up one coffee. Make it a once-a-year tradition,” she said.
Reipold said Warm the Children ran out of mittens and scarves this year. She estimated they needed 200 more pairs of mittens. Over the winter, Reipold plans to knit scarves for the children. So far, she has three large bins full of scarves and plans to fill four more.
Reipold recently retired and began looking for something that was meaningful to her when she learned of Warm the Children.
As a mother and grandmother, Reipold always tried to make sure her children had what they needed. Now that her children are grown, she wants to help others.
“I’ve decided I need to make a difference. For me, this is what I can do,” Reipold said.
The three days at the Warm the Children “store” were happy days for Reipold. The volunteers she worked with were caring. And the people she met were grateful.
Killeen Perras of Community Action stood out to Reipold for her uplift.
“She treated the people that came in like they were people,” Reipold said.
“I want to give part of me because I feel I’m so lucky in my life,” Reipold said. “It was an awesome experience.”
REMINDER THAT A FUNDRAISER to benefit Warm the Children will be held Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. in St. Kazimierz Hall, 197 Avenue A in Turners Falls. The Children Fundraiser, Princess House BINGO!, will include door prizes, a 50-50 raffle and refreshments. It will be $10 per person to participate in all Bingo games. Have fun and support a wonderful program at the same time.
You should RSVP to 413-325-1661 to make sure you have a seat.
To donate to Warm the Children, send a check to: Warm the Children, c/o The Recorder, P.O. Box 1367, Greenfield, MA 01302. New clothing may also be dropped off at The Recorder, 14 Hope St., any time during the year.
The Recorder will carry weekly stories about the progress of this year’s drive and the people helping and helped.
If you have stories to tell about Warm The Children or plan fundraisers, let us know. Call 772-0261, ext 268, or write to: firstname.lastname@example.org