NEWINGTON - The holidays arenâ€™t far away, and the town is already harnessing volunteers to help prepare food and gift baskets for its least fortunate residents.
Newington Human Services is hosting a Volunteer Orientation on Monday, Sept. 24, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium. Itâ€™s an opportunity for the departmentâ€™s busy staff to garner assistance from the community for its upcoming holiday food and gift drives, which take place before Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Last year 400 financially distressed Newington families benefited from these programs and 70 volunteers helped facilitate activities.
â€śWe are always looking for new volunteers,â€ť Human Services director Carol LaBrecque said this week. â€śItâ€™s an amazing program and without the volunteers we wouldnâ€™t even be able to begin meeting the needs.â€ť
Interested people should bring their November and December calendars to the upcoming orientation and be prepared to commit to specific dates, times and tasks. The typical shift on any given day is either 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 12-4 p.m., but staff is flexible.
Volunteers who sign up will be sent letters confirming participation. Those unable to attend the orientation but who would still like to volunteer can contact financial coordinator Pat Meskill at 860-665-8597 or email@example.com.
There are lots of different jobs to be done and just as many roles that need filling.
â€śPeople can typically find a way to be a part of the whole community effort of brightening othersâ€™ holidays while still finding a way to fit it into their schedules, abilities and talents,â€ť LaBrecque explained.
Human Services gave out 375 Thanksgiving meals to families who use the Newington Food Bank last November. Volunteers processed the food the department received and packaged it for families.
â€śThereâ€™s a whole lot of sorting, checking expiration dates and organizing of food,â€ť LaBrecque said.
The office also gets calls from schools, businesses, private residences and houses of worship that have completed a food drive and need someone to pick up donations.
Itâ€™s basically the same story in December, but with gifts instead of food. Staffers interview families to find out what each member of their household wants for a holiday gift.
Then comes the shopping, packaging and wrapping. Individuals and couples - many elderly or disabled - come to Newington Town Hall in mid-December to pick up gifts. Families with children come a few days later to get their gifts and explore a room of â€śstocking stuffersâ€ť set up by volunteers.
All the while, Human Services still operates its regular services and programs and the Newington Food Bank. The food bank shelves get scarce before donors start feeling the holiday spirit. On Sept. 22 there will be a food drive at both Stop & Shop stores in Newington to replenish it before the holiday season.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How you can help:
Come to Volunteer Orientation Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m. in Newington Town Hall
OR contact Pat Meskill at 860-665-8597 or email@example.com