Katie Farren knew early in the Memorial Day weekend that Operation Darien Little League Cares would be an enormous success. "It was incredible,'' said Katie, a Darien High School student who coordinated the drive for the league. "On the first day we had 170 boxes, and by the end of Sunday we had 295. We ran out of boxes."
By the end of three-day weekend, Farren expected to have nearly 320 boxes packed with items for U.S. troops. The items collected included toiletries, books, food, music and playing cards. Best of all, many young players in the league wrote letters to the troops. Katie and volunteers from the Darien Little League community packed the boxes Monday, and they will be shipped this week.
"The minor leagues had a competition to see which team could get the most boxes,'' Katie said. Steve Winsch, the minor league commissioner, volunteered to buy the winning team lunch at McGuane Park, home of the Darien Little League. My Tutor and Me, a team in the AAA League, won a similar competition in that division. Darien High School physics teacher George Marrash also gave students points toward their grade for donations.
"The feedback has been amazing,'' said Katie, daughter of Darien LL president Tony Farren. "Everybody's so willing to pitch in. I can't wait to get back letters from the troops."
Not that it's a competition, but Katie's efforts surpassed the total of her older brother, Tommy, from last year. She had help all weekend from her mother, Maria, and volunteers Jack Garfield and Ann Reed, who helped collect and pack the boxes. "We had people drop in and help pack a box,'' Katie said. "The next thing you know they've been here an hour and they've packed three or four boxes."
One Little League player, Rob Stewart, requested for his birthday that instead of presents, people make contributions to the drive. This is the fourth year of the drive, and the donations continue to exceed the total of the previous year.
"We were worried that because we're pulling back a little bit overseas donations might drop off,'' Katie said. "That's not the case. We're getting more than ever."
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