Groups Partner to Lend a Hand

The Valley Press
March 24, 2016
By Alicia B. Smith
Staff Writer
SIMSBURY — Easter hippity-hopped its way into the Simsbury Public Library early this year with a frenzy of activity and plenty of green and pink artificial grass, candy and an assortment of other goodies.

Members of the Simsbury Newcomers Club and students in the Take Action Club at Squadron Line Elementary School spent the evening of March 16 assembling 60 Easter baskets that would later be delivered to children at My Sisters’ Place, a shelter for women and their children in Hartford.

In about one hour’s time, the baskets were stuffed to overflowing in an assembly-line fashion.

“I thought I would do this because it helps children in need,” TAC member Nora Carroll, a third-grader at Squadron Line, said.

“I wanted to help other people have a good Easter,” Kelsey Alonzo, a TAC fifth-grader said.

Patti Cummings, the civic concerns officer for the Simsbury Newcomers Club, said her organization has done a number of community service projects for local organizations, such as Gifts of Love and Loaves & Fishes. This year the group was looking to find a more hands-on project to participate in rather than hosting a fundraiser. “We’ve never done anything like this before,” Cummings said.

When Cummings presented her idea to the Newcomers’ board, the project quickly received the board’s approval.

“It sounded like a wonderful idea,” Simsbury Newcomers Club President Holly Murphy said. “My Sisters’ Place is a very special place. We felt it was a good thing to do.”

After connecting with My Sisters’ Place, she later reached out to the Take Action Club, a community service organization, looking for help from them, too. Cummings also set up a website through Sign Up Genius as a way to solicit donations.

Cummings said donations came in slowly at first, but that quickly changed and soon the Newcomers were inundated with items from candy and small stuffed animals to books, sidewalk chalk and bubbles.

The Take Action Club, which began in January 2015, is part of a network of clubs that is part of the larger Free the Children organization. There are more than 4,000 TAC groups in the United States and Canada, explained Heather Carroll, the parent co-coordinator of the Take Action Club.

The Squadron TAC is currently collaborating with other TAC groups in Simsbury schools to collect money for a project in Ecuador.

“The main motto of TAC is ‘change the me to we,’” Carroll said. “It is my goal to make sure kids at a young age know that poverty exists everywhere. It’s a human creation and something humans can change. They can have an impact locally and globally.”

Dawn Lombardi’s children are members of TAC, and she also came along to help during the basket assembly. Her job was attaching name tags to each basket.

“I’m amazed,” she said of the number of items that had been collected. “It’s really great.”

Murphy said she was not at all surprised by the generosity of the community.

“I find that in this area, the Farmington Valley, there is a lot of kindness. I just appreciate all of the amazing donations. The generosity has been incredible.”

Members of the Simsbury Newcomers Club delivered the completed baskets to My Sisters’ Place March 21, just in time for the holiday party the shelter was planning.