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Tag-A-Gift Program Continuing For Local Children & Senior Citizens



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Following a 40-plus-year run, Newtown Junior Women's Club (NJWC) disbanded earlier this year due to a shrinking membership.

Nevertheless, a few members of the former club are continuing the Tag-A-Gift program, which provides gifts to area residents of all ages in Newtown and the greater Danbury area. NJWC oversaw Tag-A-Gift for more than 20 years.

Laura Branchini, who was a member of NJWC, is among those who wanted Tag-A-Gift to continue. She is now serving as project manager of the program, which has 350 tags posted in eight Newtown locations.

She calls the program "a way of spreading holiday cheer to the less fortunate in our local area." Tags include the wishes of children and senior citizens in Newtown and beyond. The latter has been brought into the Tag-A-Gift program through Golden Opportunities, said Ms Branchini.

"They work in partnership with several Newtown groups and facilities, as well as additional nursing care homes in Danbury, Southbury, and Norwalk," Ms Branchini said of Sandy Hook-based Golden Opportunities.

The wishes of children this year are from some of those in the foster program out of Danbury's Department of Child & Family Services. NJWC "adopted" a social worker, Robyn Wood, about eight years ago and it has been "a wonderful partnership," according to Ms Branchini. While Ms Wood is based in Danbury's Social Services office, some of the children she helps live in Newtown, Ms Branchini pointed out.

The Newtown Fund's Holiday Basket Program focuses its efforts on Newtown residents, she added.

"This way we aren't competing against each other," said Ms Branchini said. "We are spreading the joy further."

In addition to the children and seniors receiving holiday wishes through this Tag-A-Gift effort, the Newtown group has also added a few tags to its trees that feature the wishes of Newtown Animal Shelter.

Tag-A-Gift locations are set up at Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street; Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street; Newtown Country Club, 2 Country Club Road; Newtown Savings Bank, both the main branch at 39 Main Street and the Sand Hill Plaza branch at 228 South Main Street; NYA Sports & Fitness Center, 4 Primrose Street; Stop & Shop, within Sand Hill Plaza, 228 South Main Street; and Taunton Press, 63 South Main Street.

Tags include the gender and first name of a child or senior citizen, their age, and wish. The wish or gift should be purchased and then returned to the Tag-A-Gift tree location, and left, unwrapped, with the tag attached, by Wednesday, December 14.

Each tag is attached to an ornament handmade by a member of Newtown Girl Scout Troop 50293. The public is invited to visit any of the eight Tag-A-Gift locations, select an ornament, and fulfill the wish on the tag.

For additional information, contact Ms Branchini at 203-364-0466.

Several local volunteers, from left, Laura Branchini, Karen Harris, and Lynette Daria have continued supporting the Newtown Tag A Gift program. They gathered with NYA Sports & Fitness Director Nick Hoffman this week to install a collection box in the NYA lobby. (Bee Photo, Voket)
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