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Newtown Fund Hoping For Last-Minute Holiday Basket Financial Donations



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Linda Bates is concerned.

The president of the Newtown Fund, Bates says there is good news and bad news for the organization that is in the midst of its largest annual undertaking, the Holiday Basket Program.

As of November 30, when the board of the fund met, the 86 households that had requested assistance had all been “adopted” by local families, organizations, and businesses. That means each of those households — whether an individual, couple or family — will be able to count on a delivery of holiday gifts and food later this month.

The deliveries are scheduled for next weekend, on December 12 — this year’s Depot Day — and that is the good news.

There was additional good news at the beginning of the week. According to Bates, there were more people still hoping to adopt households.

“We even had to close the sign-up on our website,” Bates said. “We have about 18 more people who want to adopt. I am just floored.”

By Friday, December 4, however, Bates had a few things of great concern. Another five households had been approved for the Holiday Basket Program, financial donations for the program are down from last year, and the turnaround times for shipping are going to be very tight this holiday season.

Donation And Delivery Concerns

The five additional families accepted into the program mean further strain on the budget covered by the Newtown Fund. Newtown Social Services handles the application process for the households in need, but it is the Newtown Fund and those who agree to adopt a household who cover the costs of the holiday program.

Financial donations, especially this time of the year, help the Newtown Fund cover the cost of gift cards, which are a large part of the collection of items given to each household.

“With 30 more families than last year, it will pretty much wipe out the fund now to buy gift cards for things like gas and food,” Bates said Friday morning. “We hope to see additional funds during the year, to build the account back up, but we’re going to be very low after the baskets go out next weekend.”

“It is imperative that we get donations in quickly,” she added. “I have to order the gift cards soon.”

Even if gift cards are ordered in time for Depot Day delivery, there is another concern among over one of the most popular gift cards the Newtown Fund has counted on in recent years. When given to households with children, Amazon gift cards grant so many shopping options for parents.

“As you know, online orders have skyrocketed,” pointed out Bates, who is worried that parents will not have enough time to place orders and see those gifts in time for Christmas this year.

Amazon has been under steady, sometimes overwhelming, delivery challenges as the pandemic continues. The e-commerce mega website — along with other shipping carriers — is expected to face record demand for home delivery this holiday season.

As of December 4, Amazon had not posted a shipping order-and-delivery schedule on its website.

FedEx home delivery and ground — among the least expensive options offered by that shipper — both had December 15 listed as the final day for shipping to guarantee December 25 delivery. USPS retail ground service also listed December 15; first-class mail is set this year for December 18. Ditto for UPS ground: December 15 for the least expensive offering through that service.

Bates had been told, she said, that Amazon orders need to be placed on December 12 if they are to arrive by December 25. This means parents receiving Holiday Baskets from the Newtown Fund will need to place those orders within hours of receiving them on Depot Day.

“The families will just be able to make their purchases and get delivery of the gifts by the 25th,” she said.

Parents can give their children the gift cards, Bates said, but being a parent and grandparent herself, she does not see that as a fun option.

“I’m sure kids don’t necessarily want a gift card from Santa,” she said.

To make a financial donation to the Newtown Fund, visit thenewtownfund.org. The fund is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) organization, so all donations are tax deductible.

Online donations are done through PayPal. Checks are also accepted, and can be mailed to the Newtown Fund, PO Box 641, Newtown CT 06470.

For additional information call 203-491-7586 or send e-mail to newtownfund@gmail.com.

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