While we live in one of the country's wealthiest counties, an average of 20 percent of children live in poverty in the metro areas of coastal Fairfield County. For children, poverty affects academic performance and creates health issues, which lead to an uncertain future; Fairfield County has one of the nation's largest education achievement gaps between poor and affluent students.

The United Way of Coastal Fairfield County serves 12 neighboring communities along southwestern Connecticut, including many of the communities served by Person-to-Person (Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, Weston, Westport and Wilton). With its focus on the issues that affect a child's life -- income, education and health -- the United Way drives initiatives, innovation and resources to maximize positive outcomes for children in need across our communities.

Person-to-Person clients have benefitted from the United Way, which has awarded grants that are used to provide financial assistance, food, clothing and housing assistance through our emergency services programs in Darien and Norwalk.

Funds for these grants are received by the United Way through donations from corporate partners and individuals, as well as local fundraising initiatives staged throughout their service area.

One such fundraising effort is Give4KidsNow, an effort that is being hosted by Palmer's Market now through Tuesday, May 13. Palmer's Market patrons have the opportunity to donate $1, $5 or $10 at the register so that children in need will have enough to eat, roofs over their heads and more stable home environments.

We appreciate that Palmer's Market has partnered with United Way to solicit donations that ultimately will be used to fund grants made to Person-to-Person and other service organizations in our area. It is the commitment and generosity of the United Way -- plus local foundations, businesses, schools, congregations, community organizations and individuals -- that makes it possible for us to provide programs and services to thousands of people throughout Lower Fairfield County.

Ceci Maher, executive director


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