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Newtown Fund Preparing For 2013 Holiday Basket Program

Photo: Bee file photo

The Newtown Fund will conduct Depot Day, the culmination of its annual Holiday Basket Program, on Saturday, December 14. It will be the second year for the drop-off event to take place at the South Main Street location. Families are available for “adoption” for this year’s holiday season.

This year’s Depot Day, which will fall on the first anniversary of 12/14, will take place with the Sandy Hook victims in mind. The day, planned through The Newtown Fund’s Holiday Basket Program to provide holiday goods and gifts to Newtown families in need, will take place this year on Saturday, December 14.

Newtown Fund member Layne Lescault knew Depot Day shared the 12/14 anniversary.

“We thought about moving it” to a later weekend she said, adding “but there is no way to do it and make sure everyone gets their gifts.” Instead, she views this year’s Depot Day as “a day to do something for the community.” In a recent e-mail, she wrote: “We want The Newtown Fund to embody the motto ‘We Are Sandy Hook, We Choose Love.’”

While she, like others, will be thinking of the families of 12/14 “every minute,” she and other volunteers will also spend the day giving to families in need.

“This is our way of showing our love to the community,” she said. The families and people “need us to have a holiday.”

On that Saturday, participants who prepared gifts and food items for a household in the community will drop off their packages to a team of volunteers waiting at Fraser-Woods School. Volunteers will then assemble and deliver the packages.

Although December is still more than one month away, Ms Lescault has already received requests to participate this year, she said. For more information about The Newtown Fund or to volunteer for the Holiday Basket program, visit TheNewtownFund.org; send e-mail to newtownfund@outlook.com; or call Fund President Linda Bates at 203-270-9312 or Ms Lescault at 203-270-6481.

For decades, The Newtown Fund has helped Newtown residents in need at Christmastime with the Holiday Basket Program and during the year providing assistance to families with emergency needs. Most referrals come through the town Social Service Department or local clergy. The Holiday Basket holds its distribution day, or Depot Day, on a Saturday roughly ten days prior to Christmas. On Depot Day, those adopting families drop off the gifts and other volunteers deliver them to their destination.

According to an e-mail circulated recently by Ms Lescault, “This year, like 2012, will be different.” Last year’s Depot Day was December 15, she pointed out, one day after the tragic events at Sandy Hook School, which, incidentally, had been the “Depot” where gifts were dropped off. Fraser-Woods School graciously donated their premises for the drop-offs and deliveries. The South Main Street school has again agreed to host Depot Day 2013.

“Fund members spent much time debating the possibility of moving the date,” her e-mail states. “Ultimately, it was decided to go ahead with the delivery date to assure that all families receive their gifts in time for the holidays. We feel that we are honoring those who lost their lives on December 14 by reaching out to those in need on that day.”

According to TheNewtownFund.org, founded by Joseph Chase and the Reverend Cullens, The Newtown Fund, Inc, incorporated on April 19, 1959, provides emergency relief to Newtown citizens in need. In its early days, the Newtown Fund provided seed money for the town to hire its first social worker and for the establishment of Newtown Youth Services, the Children’s Adventure Center, the Senior Center, Nunnawauk Meadows, and the Family Life Center.

Working with Newtown Social Services, The Newtown Fund acts as a safety net and support to Newtown residents by paying for food, fuel assistance, utility bills, rent, and medical expenses.

The Fund’s most significant activity is the Adopt A Family program at the Christmas holidays, but the fund also works closely with Newtown Social Services to provide year-round emergency assistance. The Newtown Fund also supports community nonprofit organizations such as Kevin’s Community Center and Masonicare at Newtown.

The Newtown Fund is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization and therefore, all donations to the Newtown Fund are tax deductible.

Under the Adopt button on the website is the summary of annual holiday needs. The website explains that residents can make donations of cash throughout the year. Checks should be made payable to The Newtown Fund, Inc and sent to The Newtown Fund, Inc, PO Box 641, Newtown CT 06470-0641.

Typically there are 70 to 100 Newtown families that need to be “adopted” at the holidays each year, the website states. Adopters receive a list of the ages of each family member together with a list of each family members’ needs.

Those adopting a family are responsible for purchasing gifts and food for the family. Adopters can be individuals, families, or a group or organization. Visit TheNewtownFund.org or call Ms Lescault at 203-270-6481 for more information. The Fund needs to hear from those interested in adopting a family no later than November 15.

In addition to adopting a family, there are other ways to help The Newtown Fund. A sample of the volunteer activities are to deliver Christmas gifts and food to families in the Adopt A Family program, wrap gifts, organize a toy drive, make a financial donation, and include a link to the Newtown Fund website in company newsletters. Contact Linda Bates at 203-270-9312 to volunteer or for additional information.

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