New Board Members Improve Newtown Fund Efficiency; Depot Day Fast Approaching
As The Newtown Fund, Inc (TNF) gets ready for the distribution of its holiday baskets, it is operating more efficiently and cost effectively than ever thanks to two of its board members.
Patricia Marlin and Alison Kistner have each helped the longstanding organization take big steps in the past year toward making it easier for people to donate to the fund, “adopt” a local family (including individuals and couples) during the holidays, or become an adoptee.
When Marlin, of Business Technology Solutions, LLC joined the TNF board, she promptly volunteered to update its website. She immediately got to work, updating the look and content of the website, and making it more user friendly to the public.
She also added links for visitors to the site to adopt a family for the Holiday Basket Program, make donations, and sign up for TNF news.
Marlin also updated the website to accept donations via PayPal or credit card. As a result, donors can now make a one-time donation or sign up to make recurring, monthly donations to The Newtown Fund.
TNF quietly helps Newtown families in need throughout the year, so having ongoing donations to the fund allows the board to provide that assistance.
Using Constant Contact, Marlin now e-mails newsletters to keep in touch with donors. The savings on mailing costs has further lowered already minimal overhead expenses.
Marlin has also set up an account with Amazon Smile so that anyone can designate The Newtown Fund, Inc to receive a donation from Amazon every time they make a purchase.
Alison Kistner works closely with Natalie Jackson at Newtown Human Services to get families “adopted” each holiday season. She has created documents that allow potential “adopters” to sign up online directly from TNF website. Using the form streamlines the entire process and allows her to quickly match a family to an adopter.
Kistner also keeps in touch with the adopters via e-mail to answer questions and send reminders, making the whole process more efficient for all involved.
TNF President Linda Bates is thrilled by the contributions Marlin and Kistner have made to the organization.
“Although everyone on the board works tirelessly to make the Holiday Basket Program a success each year,” Bates said, “Pat and Alison’s contributions have brought the Fund into the 21st Century.”
The Holiday Basket program is a community-wide effort organized by The Newtown Fund each year. Countless Newtown residents, businesses and organizations generously donate time and resources to support Newtown families in need during the holiday season. The program culminates on Depot Day, when all items and gifts are organized and delivered to those who have requested them.
Any family that wishes to be adopted can contact Newtown Human Services at 203-270-4330. Applicants are screened by the Town of Newtown department to make sure they meet eligibility requirements. By late November, TNF knows how many individuals, couples, and families need to be "adopted" for that year's Holiday Basket Program.
The names of those seeking adoption are known only to Human Services; each recipient is identified to TNF only by a number, with only their gender and general age also shared. The wish list of each person, couple, or family is also provided to the fund, which distributes it to those who want to do an adoption.
Bates told The Newtown Bee this past January that TNF's Holiday Basket Program adopted out 97 families for the 2020 holiday season. The program provided gifts and food, she said, for 295 people: 125 adults (ages 18-61), 44 senior citizens (age 62 and up), and 96 children (age 17 and under.
In 2019, 62 families were aided; in 2018 it was 68 families, representing 100 adults and 60 children. The previous year, the fund aided 71 families.
It seems 1992 may have been the standard bearer for the most challenging year for the program. That year, 124 families — representing 400 people, according to our archives — were served through the program, which began in 1964 as a distribution of Christmas food baskets. That first year, 40 families — 200 people — received boxes of gifts and food.
This year’s Depot Day will be conducted Saturday, December 11. For the second year, Depot Day will be done via direct delivery to the homes of adoptees. Until last year, all items were collected at a central location and then either delivered or picked up by families. COVID precautions led to the change of Depot Day collection and distribution until further notice.
“Anyone who wants to donate or adopt is encouraged to do that now,” said Bates. “With Thanksgiving being so late, and Depot Day so early,” she added, there is a small window of opportunity to help.