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Town Residents Show Their Generosity

It was just a coincidence that on Valentine's Day, the Town Manager's Report contained news of several donations and good deeds.

Good deeds highlighted the report of Town Manager Ron Van Winkle at Tuesday night's Town Council Meeting.

Van Winkle reported that resident David Charles "turned a learning experience into a project that will help the stock its shelves." The IBM employee began an initiative last October to raise funds for the Food Pantry, just by asking friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

Recently, Charles presented the Food Pantry with check a for more than $10,000, the organization's largest-ever single contribution. “It's a great example of how one person can make a difference,” Van Winkle said.

Van Winkle had "one more storm story" in his report as well. Resident Penn Ritter, who lives in the part of town perhaps hardest hit by the storm, was looking to find out if something productive could be done with all of the wood remaining from the downed trees, particularly the large trunks.

Ritter talked to Open Hearth – a Hartford-based non-profit that supports and provides shelter for area homeless men – about using the wood. Open Hearth raises funds through a wood products business that processes raw timber into firewood sold to commercial and residential customers.

Through Ritter's efforts, a large quantity of the wood that would otherwise have been discarded was donated and will be utilized by Open Hearth.

"West Hartford was first, but they then reached out to other towns in the area  and got other donations," Van Winkle said.

Van Winkle also reported that resident El Harp made a sizeable grant to the Town of West Hartford through the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Harp donated $10,000 for the purchase of new trees. The funds are specifically earmarked for the purchase of a new strain of elm tree – the Liberty Elm – that is resistant to Dutch Elm disease.

Some of the Liberty Elms have already been planted in Blanchfield Park in Elmwood, and Elmwood continues to be a targeted area for the new plantings, along with public ways and parks.

Van Winkle said that the Town plans to purchase trees with trunk sizes of three to four inchs, at a cost of $400-$500 per tree.

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