Shopping with nonprofits: Gifts that give back

Does your child want a pet this holiday season? Perhaps something that leans toward the exotic?

Never fear. Animals such as owls, hawks, turtles, bearded dragons, pythons, and Madagascar hissing cockroaches are available for “adoption” through the Woodcock Nature Center.

The nature center is just one of the many nonprofits in town that offer interesting holiday gift options. From the Betts Store at Wilton Historical Society to the Turnover Shop or Wilton Continuing Ed, the choices are numerous.

Woodcock Nature Center

The nature center offers an adoption plan for most of its animals. Whether it is Hooty the horned owl, Draco the bearded dragon, Cornelius the albino corn snake, or Fred the green frog, there is something for the feather, fur or reptile and amphibian lover.

There are monthly, six-month, and yearly adoption plans, and prices vary depending on the animal. Each adoption includes a certificate, a letter “from” the animal, a one-on-one session with one of the center’s naturalists, and a sign posted on or near the animal’s home.

For information, call the center at 203-762-7280 or email A gallery of animals is online at Click on get involved, adopt-an-animal.

Another gift opportunity is a family membership, which is $50 for a year. Membership supports the nature center’s mission of environmental education and gives families discounts on programming as well as access to member-only events and summer camp.

Those interested in pursuing either of these options should do so quickly. The nature center closes for the last two weeks in December. The last day of business is Friday, Dec. 19.

Turnover Shop

Wilton’s Turnover Shop, around the side of the Village Market on Old Ridgefield Road, has been decked out for the holidays since late November.

The shop is a treasure trove of items ranging from clothing for all members of the family — a recent visit revealed some fur coats — to jewelry, antiques, toys, books, household items, furniture, glassware, china, and lots of holiday decorations.

The money the shop raises is donated to the Wilton Parent Teacher Association and Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County. Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 to 4, Saturday from 10 to 1. The shop is closed when Wilton schools are closed due to bad weather.

The shop is no longer taking consignments this year. The first public consignments of 2015 will be taken Tuesday, Jan. 20.


Stay at Home in Wilton

Having celebrated its fourth anniversary this year, Stay at Home in Wilton has become an invaluable resource to seniors who want to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Sometimes, all that is needed is a little extra help, and that is the gap Stay at Home works to fill.

Aging in place helps people remain in a familiar environment and maintain social networks. It strengthens family ties and promotes physical and mental well-being.

The organization provides support by offering basic household services such as minor home repairs, help with pets, filing, computer assistance, etc.; transportation to doctor appointments, shopping, or social events; and a referral service for tradesmen and other services that have been vetted by the organization.

Stay at Home also offers a regular calendar of social activities such as parties, concerts and seminars.

These services are offered to members for an annual fee of $360 per year for an individual and $480 per year for a couple. Membership gift cards are available. For information on purchasing one, call Janet Johnson at 203-762-2600 or Debbie McClelland at 203-778-1081 or email Ms. McClelland at


Wilton Continuing Education

Gift certificates to continuing education classes have proved to be popular gifts throughout the year, says Dolores Tufariello, coordinator of continuing education.

“Calling our office is best for class suggestions,” she says. “Many people give the gift of health, and so gift certificates for tennis and running workshops and strength and conditioning — in other words, fitness classes — are what the majority give.

“People love these,” she added, “because they do not have to join a gym and incur that expense.”

The next most popular classes are cooking and stress release classes, both really useful after the holidays.

Information: 203-834-4820 or

Tree Committee

A tree is a pretty big item for a Christmas gift, but when it is purchased for planting in Wilton Center or Merwin Meadows, it is a gift that will give not just for years but for decades.

Wilton’s Tree Committee has tree and bench sponsorship programs through which trees and park benches may be purchased and placed in Wilton Center in someone’s memory or honor.

A flowering tree such as a dogwood or shadblow may be sponsored for $325 and a shade tree for $525. Shade trees include sugar maples, red maples and white oaks.

Park benches offer pedestrians a shady place to rest while visiting Wilton Center.

Sponsorships are available at $1,600.

Benches are marked with a memorial plaque and each donated tree includes a brick marker with the donor’s name, type of tree and the honoree.

For information, visit the Tree Committee page at Click on Departments, Environmental Affairs and Tree Committee.

Information: 203-563-0180.

Wilton Library

Books, music and movies are always popular gifts, and Wilton Library has them all. The library is in the midst of its Holiday Book Sale, with many opportunities for gift giving. Long tables are set up right in the main gallery to make browsing easy.

There are books, unopened CDs and DVDs, children’s books, travel books, cookbooks, and foreign language books. Fiction, nonfiction, science, crafts — the selection is vast. If you don’t see what you want one day, visit again.

As items are sold, new ones are brought out daily by the small army of volunteers who run the event.

The sale is on through Tuesday, Dec. 23, whenever the library is open: Mondays through Thursdays from 10 to 8, Fridays 10 to 6, Saturdays 10 to 5, and Sundays 1 to 5.

Patrons who are shopping for gifts may also give a gift to the library by visiting the giving tree. Just inside the main entrance, a large Christmas tree is festooned with “ornaments” that are items the library would like to have in its collection. This is an opportunity to donate to the library in someone’s honor or to celebrate a special occasion.

Patrons simply pick the ornament of their choice off the tree and purchase it at the circulation desk. The tree will also be up through Dec. 23.

For information, call 203-762-3950 or visit

Wilton Historical Society

The Betts Store is more than a typical small-town museum gift shop. It is chock-full of quality items, many handmade, many by area artisans. Absolutely everything is made in the United States.

The selection here is varied, from lemon and olive trees to pottery, candles, holiday ornaments, and toys.

New this year are paperweights, pendants and key rings decorated with a Wilton-centric map. The book Circus Girl by Clare Pernice of Wilton may be purchased with a book of circus-themed coloring pages hand-pressed by Lynda Campbell of Wilton. Ms. Campbell’s calendars and holiday cards are also for sale.

Another book that will appeal to children is Locomotive by Brian Floca. A Caldecott Medal winner, it is a child-friendly history of the railroad and fits right in with the historical society’s Great Trains exhibition, going on right now. Other train-oriented items are whistles, engineers’ caps, and wooden toy trains.

Sweater mittens by Luscious Green of Ridgefield are made of recycled wool and cashmere. There are turned wooden birdhouse ornaments by Richard Hoblitzell, whimsical snowman and reindeer ornaments by Carol Andrews, puppets from the Cate and Levi Collection, “beehive handmade” pewter ornaments, cross-stitch kits, Nod Hill soaps, tavern signs by Heidi Howard, games with history themes, and much more.

The store is open during historical society hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 4 and Sundays from noon to 4, at 224 Danbury Road. Information: 203-762-7257 or