By SHERIDAN CYR
The holiday season seemed to end just as suddenly as it began. Both Southington Community Services and Bread for Life saw tons of residents come forward, donating gifts, food, time, clothing, toiletries, or just simply asking, “How can I help?”
SCS delivered Thanksgiving food baskets to 566 families (1,364 individuals), Christmas gifts to 615 families (1,413 individuals), and served over 532,000 meals throughout the 2017 year.
During the holiday season, SCS also offers an “Adopt-A-Family” program, where a person can come in, obtain a family’s list of holiday needs and anonymously provide those items to them.
“We had a great year and a lot of help from the community,” said SCS director Janet Mellon.
Now, the SCS switches it focus from food to warmth. Mellon reported they are currently seeking donations of hats, gloves, coats, scarves, durable socks and other winter clothing.
The next big project to come for SCS is the Easter Basket program, where they will seek candy, toys, stuffed, animals, action figures, cars, trucks, coloring books, gifts, puzzles, books and any other amenities appropriate for a child’s Easter Basket.
Of course, the food bank is always looking for food items, even after a charitable holiday season.
“We always have a need for food,” said Mellon. Some items SCS doesn’t see as often as they’d like are kids’ snacks, and canned meals like “Chef Boyardee” or hearty soups.
Bread for Life services about 40 home-bound clients and about 20-30 in-house clients Monday through Friday. They, too, reported a successful holiday season.
“We had people calling all day, every day, leading up to the holidays just asking what they could do to help,” said executive director Donna Ayer. “We are truly thankful for the generosity of our community.”
Just before Christmas day, BFL opened house for a holiday party. Volunteers helped to serve a traditional holiday meal, carols played out through one volunteer’s guitar, and gift baskets went home packed with hats, scarves, hand warmers, homemade cookies, decorated gift bags, gift cards, food, toiletries and more, all items donated from community members.
On Christmas day, volunteers from the local Jewish congregation served up hot lunch for BFL clients.
“It was a wonderful holiday season for us,” said Ayer. While she said that BFL is thankful and impressed by the assistance locals provided, Ayer said that the need continues after the holiday season.
“We are always in need of certain food and non-food items,” she said. Some food items include peanut butter and jelly, canned fruit and vegetables, instant potatoes and rice, boxed macaroni and cheese, bags of flour, and individually packaged snacks. Non-food items include shampoo and conditioner, soap, toilet paper, feminine products, disposable razors and tissues. See their website for a regularly updated list of needs.
The “season of giving” may be over, but SCS and BFL have year-round needs and gratefully appreciate any help from the community.
Contact BFL and SCS for ways to help at (860) 276-8389 and (860) 628-3761, respectfully. Visit their websites at southingtonbreadforlife.org and at Southington.org, then click “departments,” then “Community Services.”
To comment on this story or to contact Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.