Before and leading up to Christmas Day, over one hundred toddlers and children received an early Christmas Day surprise with bags of of nearly 1,000 toys.
Save Our Schools for Our Kids Foundation teamed up with its partner at Connecticut Children and Families, and they identified twenty (20) children ages twelve and under in Congregate Care in Hartford, CT to receive one large bag of four (4) to six (6) toys.
During a convening in Washington, DC with the YWCA Hartford Region, Deputy Commissioner of Children and Families, Michael Williams (Front middle photo with locks) and leadership at the Annie E. Casey Foundation talked about the great reduction of children and youth in group home care. Deputy DCF Commissioner Williams informed us that 185 across the state are in group home care. Of the 185, there are twenty in Group Home Care ages 12 and under.
President Yvonne Renee Davis (left corner photo of her in red and electric blue), immediately thought to provide toys for the twenty children; remembering children who are often forgotten because they are not with their own families.
So, after the closing of the convening at Reagan International Airport, she spoke to the Deputy Commissioner to inform him that Save Our Schools for Our Kids Foundation would like to give toys to all twenty children.
With the Foundation's support and the partnership support of Voices of Women of Color and Town Manager Brian J. Foley, we secured hundreds and hundreds of toys. To help us with gift bags and sacks to fill the bags, Construction Owner LaVar Lawrence sponsored this along with generous sponsorship donation from The Associated Construction Company.
The Friday before Christmas Eve, we loaded up twenty giant bags of toys and transported them to the main headquarters for the CT Department of Children and Families. There we met Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes, Deputy Commissioner Jodi Hill-Lilly and members of the Legislative Leadership team for DCF blessed the children with the toys.
We agreed to commence supporting each of the remaining children and youth in Congregate Care by touching their lives in the Start Homes at the Bridge Family Center.
Prior to meeting the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner with the toys, we learned about a single Mother and eight-year-old son out of New Haven who was burned out of their home. We were able to give him a giant sack of toys and provide two coats for the mother as well as a hat, gloves, and a scarf for the mother and her son. To help with giving them some food, Save Our Schools provided groceries.
"We are so grateful and happy! Thank you SO SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING. I truly appreciate you guys so very much," said the Mother who lost everything.
Save Our Schools drove to Waterbury to meet a family with six children with bags of toys as well as four families in New Haven Christmas Eve night.
With toys left, on Christmas Day, we invited people who needed toys to reach out to us. Entertainment Manager, Shakira Acevedo, and her son, Filmography Producer, Jonathan Cruz desired to secure todays for four families with five to six children from East Hartford, Hartford, and Manchester.
The Curvy Folklore World 2023 reigning Queen wanted to do all she could to help these families in need on Christmas Day. Son, Jonathan dressed as "The Grinch" who Stole Christmas; filming the meeting of the children and entertaining them on video with "Shaky" dressed as Santa's Helper and her son Jonathan the Grinch. "Families were overjoyed receiving toys on Christmas Day," said Acevedo. "We are grateful to Save Our Schools for Our Kids" for being there. We made a lot of children smile. This warms my heart."
We are grateful again to Joe Jankowski of The Associated Construction Company, Construction Company Owner LaVar Lawrence, and Attorney and Honorary Romanian Consul General Dana R. Bucin, partner for Murtha Cullina LLP for sponsorship, donation and toy donationn support.