Generous residents filled the community room below the United Methodist Church Friday, November 22, with donated canned goods and items intended to get to as many as 81 families in need during the holidays. Through the Women Interested in Newtown (WIN) basket program, members and high school students volunteered to prepared goods for delivery that afternoon.
Co-coordinators Mandy Monaco and Cyndy DaSilva, in an appeal to residents recently for more support as donations had been low this year, glanced around the bustling room, pleased that calls to help had come.
“Newtown came through as it always does,” Ms DaSilva said.
With additional families in need, the support from schools and residents has been “wonderful,” she said. “It’s great to be a part of this town.”
Loading bags with food, toiletries, and paper and cleaning products, volunteers readied collections for recipients that would receive their baskets later that afternoon.
“We try to provide them with enough supplies to get them through the holiday season,” she said.
Students Julia Faxon and WIN-terns, a junior WIN student group, Sophie Kennen and Amanda Tramposch worked to place canned foods into boxes.
Noting that the effort was the WIN-tern group’s first major event, Amanda was “excited to help in the community,” and also excited for the “experience I will have with my friends.”
Across the room coordinating more food into recipients’ baskets were Ryan King, Brendan Grant, Curtis Giles, Kurnal-Marwah, and Matt Perun, many of the young men volunteering for a second year or more in the WIN effort.
Matt loves the volunteer work and Curtis loves to be able to help, they said.
The basket program, which started about 44 years ago, covers a Thanksgiving dinner, and also provides food for the holiday season and includes items such as pet foods, and cleaning and hygiene products. Aside from donations, WIN supplements the baskets, and also includes donations from the community, such as the Newtown Middle School food drive. According to Nadia Papalia, one of the advisors for the Student Council, the middle school’s collection was open until November 22.
Ms Monaco said Middle Gate Elementary School, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Fraser Woods Montessori School also collected items for the basket program, and the Newtown High School Leo Club adopted a family this year.