Donations were made to: upper left, Camp Quinebaug. Above, Fidelco and low vision program, left. Courtesy photos.
POMFRET — April 7, the Putnam Lions and Putnam Leos, local organizations, charities and Lion’s charities gathered at the Connecticut Audubon Society at Pomfret to celebrate the Putnam Lion’s Annual Night of Giving and gave out more than $19,000. 
Lion President Paulette Blagburn welcomed all to one of her favorite nights of the year.  The Night of Giving is the culmination of a year of hard work and fund-raising events by the Putnam Lions and Leos.  It is at this special event that they are able to give back to the community all the funds they have raised throughout the course of the year.  
Forty organizations and charities attended the event and shared how the donations helped them to continue their work. Recipients represent community needs from children to veterans and so much more.  
Sarah Mortensen of NOW explained how NOW was providing healthy alternatives to playing video games all day.  The programs in nutrition, the introduction to various sports and the scholarships for youth to participate in sports all help to combat childhood obesity and to provide lifelong skills contributing to a healthy lifestyle.  Romeo Blackmar discussed PRIDE and how they have partnered with others to help combat the use of drugs in the community. Dr. Marc Cerone explained how the funds received from the Lions helped to provide books to families who may have no other means to get them.  Likewise, Priscilla Colwell of the Putnam Library explained how the library offers so many other services besides just book loans.  The funds received helped defray the costs of the “soft services,” such as computer use, children’s programs, tax preparation help and other services.
Some of the stories were as uplifting as Judith Gehrig, Chris Castenguay and  Valentine Iamartino of Community Cafe explaining how they’ve served countless meals and provided as many connections.  Likewise, Karen Osbrey, accepted a donation for Interfaith Human Services and explained how many different needs the organization actually meets including the food pantry, the diaper bank and the new to you clothing service.   Other people spoke of the triumph of the spirit and the help from their service dogs.  Wendy Debaros of Fidelco and Ailene Akers of CRIS radio were in attendance with their service dogs who are critical to helping their owners regain independence and confidence.
Organizations represented at the Night of Giving included Lions charities such as CRIS Radio, Camp Rising Sun, Connecticut Lions Eye Research Foundation, FIDELCO Guide Dogs, LCIF, Opening Eyes, Low Vision Center and the District 23-C Hearing and Speech Foundation.  Local charities and organizations included DARE, Putnam K-9 Unit, the Audubon Society, American Legion Baseball, ARC of Quinebaug Valley, Camp Quinebaug, Clara Barton Association, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Community Cafe, Interfaith Human Services, Day Kimball Hospital Chaplaincy, Day Kimball Homemakers/Hospice and Homecare, Day Kimball Pediatric Reading, Family Resource Center, 4-H Camp, NOW Foundation, Putnam High School Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball, Putnam High School Girls’ Volleyball, Putnam PRIDE, Putnam High School Music Program, Putnam High School Soccer, Putnam Ambulance/EMS, Putnam Library, Putnam Little League, Putnam Middle School End of Year Activities, Quilts of Valor, Ronald McDonald House, Sunshine Kids, WPTP (Woodstock Putnam Thompson Pomfret) Football and the Veterans’ Coffeehouse.
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