In ancient times, alchemists spent a colossal amount of time trying to discover a process that would transform metal into gold. Despite their efforts, these early chemists never succeeded at their task. Had the Wood family of Wurstboro been around centuries earlier, they could have taught these budding scientists a thing or two about transforming aluminum into something far more valuable.
For the past three years, the Wood family of Wurstboro (including daughter Kelly DeGuzman, and the DeGuzman family), have been on a mission to collect cans from neighbors, friends, and community members, turning the cans into nickels and the nickels into dollars and the dollars into support for the students of the Emma C. Chase Elementary School.
At first, the family sought out the cans by asking friends and neighbors for donations, before eventually opening up a donation container on their home property and finally, creating donation bins placed around the village of Wurtsboro. The family collected $500 in their first year of fundraising, $750 in their second year, and in this third year, they managed to collect an astounding $2,000 worth of donated cans.
With the record-breaking collection, the Woods were able to create the aforementioned donation bins throughout the community, enabling the family to increase donations and streamline the collection process as well as make significant contributions to the children of Wurtsboro, including: donations of backpacks and school supplies, coats, clothing and seasonal decorations. In addition, the Chase “snackpack program,” which provides non-perishable food to students at risk for hunger, the Mamakating Library and Chase’s music and arts program also received cash donations to sustain the programs throughout the year. Finally, the family also allocated a portion of the funds to sponsor spring registration in the Mamakating Little League for two children in need, including a baseball glove for each child.
“The Wood family is incredibly generous and supportive of the Chase School,” Chase School Social Worker Kaitie Rubin, who coordinates the school’s snackpack program, said. “The work that they do helps our snackpack program provide extra snacks and food to families in need. Over the course of the school year we provide for on average 8-12 families, with approximately 18-25 kids between them, every weekend and school break. We rely on donations from our Chase family and community to operate this program. I am so thankful for the support of the Wood family- they make a challenging job easy!”
The family hopes to continue to grow this effort and is currently undergoing the process to create a non-profit organization to continue to bring support and opportunities to the youth of Wurtsboro, believing (and proving!) that every little bit helps and that it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make a difference.
“This fundraiser is a community effort and we would like to thank all of those who sponsored individual collection cans, those who donated their cans and bottles each week and the Village of Wurtsboro for their continued support,” Dennis Wood and Kelly DeGuzman wrote on behalf of their families in a letter to the public. “We couldn’t have done this without you all. Wurstboro rocks!”