Gifts from the Heart – Philanthropy Pure & Simple

We love working with donors, and we are honored to work with so many of you who wish to help, give back, and have a positive impact on Middlesex County. The size of the gift doesn’t matter nor does the reason it was given. We believe that everyone is a philanthropist. We believe that giving through the Community Foundation leverages all gifts and that lives are changed because of those donations from the heart. It’s neighbor helping neighbor, one gift at a time.

This winter we received a very special gift which reminded all of us at the Community Foundation why we do the work we do. A letter arrived just after the holidays with a very simple, special message:


Leah Wysock is a 5th grader at Old Saybrook Middle School. Her favorite subject is science because she likes the experiments. Her favorite class project was creating fake beaks and using them to catch food – small marshmallows.

Avery Leopoldino also lives in Old Saybrook. Avery was diagnosed with CDKL5, a rare genetic disorder. Most of the children affected by CDKL5 suffer from seizures that begin in the first few months of life. Most cannot walk, talk or feed themselves, and many are confined to a wheelchair, dependent on others for everything. In 2010, Avery’s parents, Mark and Kristin Leopoldino decided to do something to help all with CDKL5. They established Avery’s Fund at the Community Foundation and launched a campaign to raise awareness about CDKL5 and raise funds to support research into this genetic disorder.

Leah, Avery and Mara

Leah didn’t know about Avery until her classmate, Mara Kelley, told her class that during the summer she had donated her birthday money to Avery’s Fund. Leah thought about her Christmas gifts and realized she didn’t need more toys. Instead, she wanted to give back and do something to help Avery and to help find a cure for CDKL5. The three girls met in January at the Old Saybrook Middle School and established a special bond – one made possible by the kind hearts of Leah and Mara. Two young girls who want to help. Two young girls who care.

Leah’s gift was a gift to so many children afflicted with CDKL5. Leah’s gift was from the heart, and her gift led to other gifts. So moved by her Christmas generosity, three donors stepped forward and each matched her gift to Avery’s Fund.

Leah’s actions are like so many who choose to work through the Community Foundation. It is not the amount that matters, but the fact that people want to help, want to improve the lives of others and support their neighbors. Donors like Leah and Mara make life better for us all. Leah gave more than a donation. She gave us a piece of her heart.

We have so many Leahs in our county, and we are truly thankful to work with all of you to improve the quality of life today and build a strong community for years to come.

Translate »
Skip to content