The 75 members of the First Church in Jaffrey, NH are an energetic group of individuals who feel that they should demonstrate not only in words, but also in deeds, their love for their fellow human beings and the planet around us. Over the past year this relatively small congregation provided more than $25,000 in support and untold of hours of volunteer service to a wide range of local nonprofits.

CLiF has been the fortunate recipient of the congregation’s benevolence on two occasions. Last year, the church held a “Change for Positive Change” campaign. Each week congregants brought in their loose change and added it to a large plastic water jug at the front of the church. Three nonprofits were nominated to be potential recipients, and at the conclusion of the campaign a vote was held to select the winner. CLiF won!  Church members Gwendolyn and Tom Gundlach were responsible for moving the container. “We hardly could hardly lift it!” recalled Tom with a smile. After the local bank counted the coins the church was able to send a check for $297.44 to support CLiF and its work.

This year the congregation decided to conduct a book drive for CLiF.  Over the summer months members brought in new children’s books and added them to beautifully decorated boxes by the altar. “Everyone had so much fun selecting their favorite books from childhood, or books they had enjoyed reading to their kids or grandkids,” said Gwendolyn. Church members eventually gathered 131 new books including Charlotte’s Web, Blackbeard’s Last Fight, Where the Wild Things Are, and If I Ran the Zoo (the minister remarked that this latter book reminded him a little bit of his job!).

Gwendolyn and Tom kindly drove from Jaffrey to Waterbury Center to deliver the books and meet CLiF staff in person. When asked about the final day of the book drive, Tom laughed, “There were so many books that our minister could barely make it to the altar.” Added Gwendolyn, “Everyone really enjoyed the book drive. It generated lots of smiles and conversations.”

CLiF sends our heartfelt thanks to Gwendolyn, Tom, and ALL the members of the First Church in Jaffrey for turning words into action, and for helping us inspire many more low-income, at-risk, and rural young readers and writers. We can’t wait to see what the congregation comes up with next.

If your church, synagogue, club, or other group would like to hold a book drive for CLiF, please contact Gretchen at

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CLiF has served over 350,000 children since 1998.

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