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Spring has officially sprung! The crocuses (or “croci”) are beginning to break through the earth and bring their beauty for all to enjoy. Pollinators especially love this colorful flower, because it is one of its first sources of pollen for the year. While it may be tempting to start raking the leaves and last season’s plants around these flowers, it is important to not disturb the ground this time of year. Removing dead plant material/leaf litter too early can kill many overwintering insects, including important pollinators. Wait to do spring cleaning for gardens until there are daytime temperatures consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for at least a week.

Sunday morning is the last chance for readers to donate socks at Newtown United Methodist Church, where a Warm Feet For Warriors Drive has been ongoing for a few weeks. Members of the church will be boxing up all donations that afternoon, and shipping them on Monday to Soldiers’ Angels in Texas. All donations will then be distributed by the national organization to deployed service members and those in VA hospitals. A collection box is in the narthex of NUMC, 92 Church Hill Road. New socks of all styles are requested. If you can get there on Friday, the narthex is open between 9:30 am and noon, and then Sunday, March 26, it will be open between 8 am and noon.

Real Food CT (formerly known as Real Food Share) recently announced it donated more than 30,000 pounds of produce in 2022. “We grew fresh fruit and veggies at two small farms in Newtown,” the group posted on its Facebook page. “We collected surplus from 13 regional farms. We worked with 10 young farmer interns. We delivered produce to 12 different food pantries and hunger relief organizations.” Thank you for making a positive difference in Newtown and beyond, Real Food CT!

The Ana Grace Project recently offered something very positive through its social media: suggestions for how school staff can practice self-care. It included using positive self-talk, connecting with uplifting colleagues, going for a walk or spending time outside, and taking a break when you need one. The Ana Grace Project’s mission is to “promote love, community and connection for every child and family; our goal is to identify the most effective ways to build community and interpersonal connection to prevent violence and promote healing.”

Another way that people can practice self-care is spending time with their furry friends. Did you know that a cat’s purr is said to have healing properties for people? The Newtown Animal Control Shelter has a beautiful long-haired female cat named Cashew who is up for adoption. The shelter’s description of her reads, “She is a fairly small cat that we believe to be around 2 years in age. She is a quiet, shy girl looking for a home that can show her how amazing the life of a cat can be! Cashew is respectful of other cats but we are unsure of how she is around dogs. She is spayed, microchipped, and rabies vaccinated. If you are interested in Cashew ... e-mail suada.likovic@newtown-ct.gov” for information about filling out an application. There are plenty more animals in need of their forever home, too. I purrsonally call The Newtown Bee home and earn my kibble writing this weekly column.

My fellow Bees are starting to get into their pre-Good Friday creativity zone. A few have been stocking up on extra Peeps in recent weeks, ahead of the 2023 Newtown Bee Peeps Diorama Contest. Organizers have decided to expand the voting period this year, so dioramas by employees will be arriving at 5 Church Hill Road by Thursday, April 6 — 24 hours earlier than previous years — so that voting can open that morning. Voting will continue until midday Friday, and we’re counting on readers to again help determine a Peep-le’s Choice Award winner. Last year the awards were divided, with Lynn Remson’s “Santa Peep” winning the in-house trophy, while “Limu Emu & Peep” picked up the Peep-le’s Choice bragging rights for Shannon Hicks. Watch our social media venues in just a few weeks for updates, additional reminders, and those all-important photos on April 6, when voting will open.

Did you know that there is a fun poll along the right-hand side of The Newtown Bee’s website? Nearly 450 people have answered the current question, “Have you ever donated to The Newtown Flagpole Fund?” In the order of most selected to least selected answers are: “Yes,” “I didn’t know how to/I didn’t know about the fund,” and “No.” Go to newtownbee.com to cast your vote. If you’d like to suggest a poll for our website, send a note to shannon@thebee.com. Questions should be local and/or topical, and they should be able to have brief suggested answers.

It’s National Disability Awareness Month, and while it may be close to the end of March, it is never too late to learn about it. The State of Connecticut’s Department of Developmental services explained: “On February 26, 1987 President Ronald Reagan officially declared Proclamation 5613 making March National Disabilities Awareness Month. The proclamation called for people to provide understanding, encouragement, and opportunities to help persons with disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives.” Remember, too, that disabilities can be physical and mental, ranging from those that can be seen to those people may not be able to tell about a person by just looking at them.

Newtown High’s boys’ swim team competed in the Class L and State Open championship meets in mid-March and the Nighthawks made quite a splash, taking home a handful of team and state event records. See the team’s accomplishments in Sports. Congratulations athletes!

Also happening in the local sports world: Newtown Youth Wrestling Association won its second consecutive New England championship behind some stellar individual performances on the mats. Congratulations wrestlers!

There is a slight change of plans for Sharing Ramadan, the program-dinner event being planned by members of Al Hedaya Islamic Center for Sunday evening at Edmond Town Hall. Originally scheduled to begin at 5 pm, organizers last weekend contacted us to let us and readers know that the event will instead begin at 6 pm. All are welcome, but reservations are requested and should be made by midday Saturday to hedayacenter@gmail.com. Visit our Religion page this week for details, or check our print and online calendars for additional information.

Speaking of special events, the calendar for Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company is now showing something better than taxes on April 15. Members of the company will be presenting the 2023 Food Truck Frenzy & Craft Fair from 11 am until 5 pm that Saturday. Admission is still just $2 ages 13 and up (free for 12 and under), and four food trucks had already registered as of this week. The events regularly include bounce houses for kids, yard games for all ages, shaded and sunny seating options, and are presented rain or shine. Proceeds benefit the fire company. Watch their website (sandyhookfire.com) or Facebook Event page for updates.

The following weekend will see the return of another seasonal event. Organizers have confirmed the 2023 Newtown Earth Day Festival will be presented on the front lawn of Newtown Middle School on Saturday, April 22, from 10 am until 4 pm. The family friendly event features environmental organizations, local service groups including Newtown Lions Club with their Lose The Litter project, vendors, food/refreshments, live entertainment and more. The celebration of Mother Earth and the theme of protecting natural resources also features a silent auction, which in recent years has raised funds for “green scholarships.” Festival organizers have given funds to Newtown Scholarship Association earmarked for graduating high school seniors who live in Newtown and plan to pursue a degree related to forestry/environmental sciences.

I’m exhausted just thinking about all the things we can look forward to. I’m off for a nap but will meet you here again next week if you promise, as always, to … read me again.

Newtown Animal Control Shelter has this beautiful long-haired female cat named Cashew available for adoption.
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