Donations sought to make ‘ceremony season’ special

Westport’s human services officials have issued an appeal for donations to a fund that provides new clothing for needy Westport students graduating from middle school or high school.

The fund, administered by the town’s Department of Human Services Department, has provided new, special-event clothing to several hundred students since it was launched in 2004, Human Services Director Barbara Butler said.

Last year, 38 students were able to purchase new clothing for their graduation with help from the department’s Ceremonies and Celebrations Program, Butler said in a news release.

“While new clothing may seem frivolous to some, to many of our students it represents a special occasion marking a new beginning and a job well done,” Butler said in the news release. “Dressing kids for special events is a gift for a special time in a young person’s life.”

Human services identifies graduating students who may need clothing from among families it has been assisting, according to Patty Haberstroh, the department’s family program coordinator.

But Haberstroh urged residents to contact her if they know of a student who could use help from the program. She may be reached by email at or by phone at 203-341-1069.

Social work staff will assure that families in need meet financial and program criteria and are helped, she said.
Donations are being accepted through June and are tax deductible, the department said.

Officials suggested donations could be made in the name of a favorite teacher or other mentor in a student’s life as a tribute.
A donor in that case should note the teacher or mentor’s name and the student’s or donor’s name, the department said. An acknowledgement card will be sent to the person honored.

Checks should be made payable to “DHS Family Programs” with the word “Ceremonies” on the memo line.
Gift cards also are welcomed, Butler said, suggesting cards from Marshall’s, The Gap, Westfield shopping mall in Trumbull, American Express, Visa and Master Card.

Donations can be mailed to: Department of Human Services, Westport Town Hall, Room 200, 110 Myrtle Ave., Westport, CT 06880. They also may be delivered to the department weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

John Schwing