In the tradition of New England communities that care for households experiencing a lack of resources to make their holiday happy and fulfilling, especially for their children, HARTFORD-NORWICH HOLIDAY BASKET HELPERS has for over 30 years worked to brighten those lives. The organization has always been and continues to be staffed completely by volunteers.
With the assistance of social agencies, churches, school guidance counselors and nursing personnel, households in need are identified in confidence to the H-N Holiday Basket Helpers coordinator. This is a totally anonymous program – only the coordinator has access to the recipient’s personal information. A representative of each household is interviewed and specific requests for clothing items and presents are noted. Sponsors/donors come from the broader community, and they include helping households, churches, businesses and organizations. We match sponsors with recipient households, and the sponsors so their best to fill the requests for that household. Sponsors may request matching with one child or all the children in a household. The items are delivered to the distribution site, and picked up on distribution day by the recipient household. A food gift certificate to a local grocery store is provided to each family to cover the expense of a ‘traditional’ holiday dinner.
Senior citizens are nominated to receive fruit baskets as well. The contents are supplied through a canned food drive in the elementary schools of Norwich and Hartford and by a project by a church youth group. Youth groups assemble the baskets and volunteers deliver them on distribution day. It is a special role in which children of the community may participate.
The program is conceived to soften the pinch of poverty and its companion feeling of isolation and alienation. We acknowledge that charity programs like this one are never able to get at the root causes of poverty or to make up for the financial shortfall experienced when the only income for a household is from public assistance or minimum wage jobs. It has been our experience over the years, however, that there is a common sense of joy engendered through it for both the sponsors and the recipients.
We solicit donations from the communities, businesses and individuals in the area. Funds received support minor administrative costs of the program, provide food gift certificates for a holiday dinner for families, supplemental fruit for the Senior Baskets and gifts for any un-sponsored children. Such gifts received after the distribution day are set aside to begin the next year’s program.
Thank You for Your Support!