January 12, 2018
As is usual at this time of year, we are feeling overwhelmed here at Hands On Hartford, but overwhelmed in a good way. Over the past month, we have seen so many friends, both old and new, providing an incredible outpouring of support for our Hartford neighbors. Over 70 groups and individuals brought in-kind donations of food for the pantry, “gifts of warmth” (socks, hats, gloves and scarves) for our Community Meals guests, toiletries and other miscellaneous items. These gifts enable us to keep our pantry shelves stocked, and are a tremendous help to folks who spend too much time out in the cold.
Our annual Toy Shoppe Celebration was a fabulous event, sponsored by Avon Old Farms School (students at the school raised the money and purchased hundreds and hundreds of toys), First Church Simsbury, Infoshred, UnitedHealthcare and ESPN, and lots of volunteers, who made the whole event possible. The children were so excited with the fun (and the prospect of the gifts their parents “shopped” for) and it was a delight to all of us.
About 19 families who were not able to attend Toy Shoppe were sponsored through our Adopt-A-Family program, where individuals and groups provided Christmas gifts for children. The sponsors had a blast shopping and wrapping gifts, and the excitement (and relief) in the parents’ eyes when they came to get the gifts was a joy to see.
In an annual Christmas tradition, the Goodman family provided tons of snacks, side dishes, treats, soda and juice for the Christmas Day Community Meal. Every adult received a special gift bag courtesy of employees at The Hartford filled with gifts of warmth and toiletries, and every child chose several new toys courtesy of a number of friends, including the Alec and Karen Wyman Fund.
Finally, starting 2018 in celebration and community, our New Year’s Day meal was attended by 170 guests and staffed by a corps of enthusiastic volunteers, including 35 friends from First Church Simsbury. Chef Kim Bunton cooked a delicious and hearty barbecued beef brisket meal and everyone really enjoyed the day – not just the excellent food, but the great community connections and a bingo game too!
We are filled with gratitude for everyone who helped to create this special holiday season. We are committed to working in partnership with others to strengthen community in Hartford – and you all make it easy and joyful!