When a family who has been helped by Warm The Children says, “thank you,” it means a lot to those who make the program work. When the family’s mom takes time to write a thank-you letter, and each child makes their own thank-you card and writes a special thank-you note, it’s special.

Earlier this month, the following letter came: “Dear Warm The Children staff: thank you so very much for providing new, warm, winter clothes for our children. Since we usually shop only thrift stores or clearance racks, the kids were excited to pick out brand new current season clothes.

“Due to our present financial situation, we never would have been able to do that on our own. When it improves, I hope to be able to give back to the community in some way.

“Thank you again especially to the extremely kind lady and gentleman that shopped with us at Walmart!”

Lynn Baldoni, Middletown’s Warm The Children coordinator, says these letters make the project even more worthwhile, “While our shoppers often tell us how grateful and appreciate their families were for the Warm The Children program, reading a mom’s thank-you letter and hearing first hand from children their happiness just reinforces the need this program fulfills in our communities.”

Warm The Children, a joint effort of The Middletown Press and the Kiwanis Club of Middletown, asks readers for monetary donations — every penny of which will be used to purchase new winter clothing and footwear for northern Middlesex County’s neediest children.

Staff from area public elementary and middle schools and social service agencies including CRT Head Start, Even Start, and Middlesex Hospital’s Family Advocacy Program identify families to be served. The Kiwanis Club Warm The Children coordinator assigns each family to a volunteer shopper (there are 170 of them in the Middletown area).

They meet at a mutually agreeable time at Walmart in Cromwell, and together they select new winter things for the children ($80 each for age 2 and over, $40 each for under 2). Walmart bills the Kiwanis Foundation for all purchases.

Tax deductible donations are gladly accepted at: Warm The Children, care of Liberty Bank, Attention: Mason Smith, 315 Main Street, Middletown CT 06457.

Editor’s Note: Twenty-six years ago, in 1988, former Torrington Register Citizen publisher Mack Stewart established Warm the Children after driving in his warm car one winter morning to his job when he passed by public schoolchildren waiting for the bus or walking to their stop trudging through the snow in their sneakers and pressed up against the wind in their flimsy windbreakers.