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Nielsen's Spreads Holiday Cheer For Darien Post 53

Darien Post 53's Tommy Kyritz, Nancy Herling, Gray Kline, Arthur Cassidy and Brendan Triano at the Home for the Holidays event at Nielsen's. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Sandy Nielsen-Baumann and her brother Jerry Nielsen were happy the family business could support Post 53. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
One of the tablescapes created by Nielsen's designers for the event. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Another festive holiday tablescape. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Nielsen's Florist and Garden Shop was decorated with silver, gold, red and green to celebrate the holidays. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

DARIEN, Conn. -- For the second year in a row, Darien residents packed Nielsen's Florist and Garden Shop to show their support for Post 53.

The "Home for the Holidays" event allowed shoppers to peruse displays of Christmas merchandise and festive tablescapes created by Nielsen's own designers while enjoying appetizers and drinks served by Post 53 members. A portion of the proceeds from the items purchased, as well as entry and raffle ticket sales, will go to Post 53. It is one of the only ambulance corps in the country staffed almost entirely by high school students.

"We are so glad to be able to help support Post 53. We feel the holidays are a season to give back," said Sandy Nielsen-Baumann, general manager of Nielsen's. Last year's event raised more than $5,000 for the organization and she hopes this year will raise even more. "It's all about supporting a great cause that everyone needs."

"The kids are manning the ambulances 24/7, so it's such a gift for someone to help us raise money," said Post 53 Deputy Director Nancy Herling. About 70 high school students participate in Post 53 and Herling said it is one of the busiest services in town. "This also gives the kids a chance to experience and interact with the community in a different way."

Herling said the large turnout was a testament to quality of the work performed by Post 53's EMTs.

"It's also a testament to the Nielsens, a local family who really cares about the town," she said.

Post 53 President Arthur Cassidy, a senior at Darien High School, said the support of Nielsen's and the community was very generous. He said a lot of people like the organization's uniqueness and parents and other community members appreciate the amount of time and energy the students put into the organization. Cassidy said his time there has inspired him to pursue a career in medicine.

"It's a great experience. You see things in an ambulance you'd never see otherwise," he said.

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