Volunteering for Warm the Children warms hearts
The Bobala children of Millers Falls will be warm this winter with clothing obtained through the Warm the Children program. Conner, 10, Joey, 4, Ashley, 7, mom Wendy Bobala and Sam, 13, are helped by volunteer Carole Paye, in black with clipboard.
SOUTH DEERFIELD — This September, a Turners Falls man walked about four miles from his home to the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield. On his return walk, he carried with him two bundles of jackets, mittens, pajamas and socks.
He had two young daughters waiting for him at home and to help keep them warm for the winter, he had visited the annual Warm the Children Fund’s “store” at the fairgrounds.
The program, run by The Recorder for more than 26 years, raises money to buy clothes for about 1,000 kids in the community each year.
The image of the young father working hard to clothe his children stayed in Nancy Paciorek’s mind.
The South Deerfield resident has volunteered as a shopper for Warm The Children since the program’s early years, when she remembers meeting families at the former Ames Department Store.
“It warms my heart,” Paciorek said. “You see their big smiles. We’ve actually had people cry. It tugs at my heart.”
Paciorek first got involved when she saw an advertisement in The Recorder. She was curious, called the newspaper for information and was encouraged to become a shopper for the fund.
“I know financially times are tough,” Paciorek said. “Jackets are expensive. To see kids so happy, you walk away at the end of the day satisfied that you’ve reached out to these families.”
The Warm the Children fund makes a significant impact on the lives of many families, Paciorek believes.
“Everyone, at some point, could use a little help,” Paciorek said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re young, middle-aged or old. At some point, you may need a hand up. To have someone be there for you when you need it, that stays with you. It’s not something you forget.”
One of Paciorek’s most vivid memories occurred last year. She recalls that a grandfather had brought his young grandchild to pick up a bag of new clothing.
He had tears streaming down his face.
“He couldn’t believe how great Warm the Children was and how thankful he was,” Paciorek said.
Over the years, though, Paciorek said donations have slowed.
“We service 1,000 children,” Paciorek said. “With donations down, you can’t guarantee there will be a coat for everyone. This year, snow pants weren’t offered. But all in all, everyone went away happy.”
Paciorek hopes by giving back, others will, too.
“I’m hopeful the generation that comes after would give back to where they live,” Paciorek said. “If you can touch someone in your own backyard, they can in turn reach out to someone else. It is important to raise children to give back to their community.”
Each year, Paciorek said, she has 25 spots to fill for families in need.
With the help from others in the community, such as the Deerfield library and school, she is able to find families who need the help.
“I’ll get calls from others about families in need. Deerfield has a wonderful community spirit,” Paciorek said.
Warm The Children is one of many programs Paciorek volunteers for. She serves as the secretary for the Deerfield Triad, helping seniors and she works as the brown bag coordinator for Deerfield for the Western Mass. Food Bank.
“As long as I can walk, I will volunteer,” Paciorek said.
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: