NEW BRITAIN – In an effort to help support those in need, the third annual Love Wins Community Drive and an inaugural Blue Devil Dash 5K are two virtual events with goals to make a difference in the New Britain community.
Central Connecticut State University’s Ana Grace Project announced Wednesday the third annual Love Wins Community Drive will take place from Nov. 21 through Dec. 11, to benefit New Britain Youth and Family Services and Maria’s Place. During the same time frame, the university will host an inaugural Blue Devil Dash 5K to raise funds for scholarships for New Britain residents attending CCSU.
University President Zulma Toro said the New Britain community has supported CCSU since its founding more than 170 years ago, so they welcome opportunities to show their gratitude.
“Community engagement is an area of distinction for the university, and we’re thrilled to build upon what has become a very special event on our campus and in the city,” she said. “We are very proud of our CCSU-Ana Grace Project collaboration, and I fully support its mission to build community and connection and to promote education as a path to a successful future.”
Recognizing the university’s commitment to New Britain, Mayor Erin Stewart said the city is grateful for that relationship.
“Not only do these events help so many members of our community, but they also spread the important message that love wins – a message we could all use more of this year,” she said.
Last year, the Love Wins Community Drive raised more than $13,000. This year, the event has already generated $10,000.
There are three ways to participate, shop online for new toys and winter clothing through wish lists on Amazon and Target, as well as Amato’s Toy and Hobby. Participants can also donate personal care items and non-perishable food to benefit Maria’s Place, CCSU’s on-campus food pantry; donate electronically to the project, which includes various scholarship programs and funds; and run or walk in the Blue Devil Dash 5K, where all race entry fees and donations will go to student scholarships.
“Education is critical to strengthening our communities, which is why we are so excited to host the first Blue Devil Dash 5K in support of New Britain residents attending CCSU,” said Dr. John Tully, event organizer and Department of History chair. “Our goal is to raise $5,000 during this inaugural 5K to provide members of our local community with the opportunity to further their education on our campus.”
Nelba Márquez-Greene, founder and director of the CCSU-Ana Grace Project and director of Community Advancement, created the annual community drive as a way to spread the message of “Love Wins” through the spirit of giving and to honor her daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, whose life was tragically taken during the Sandy Hook school shooting.
This December marks the eighth anniversary of the school shooting and the community has shown their support for the Márquez-Greene family through the spirit of giving, resulting in thousands of toys, food, personal care items and new clothing that were delivered to community partners in the last two years.
In honor of the community drive, CCSU’s Davidson Hall will once again be lit in purple through the entire period of the event.
“Our goal is to bring the community together and lift up our neighbors, especially during these difficult times,” Nelba Márquez-Greene said. “We are so grateful for the love and support we’ve received over the past two years from the Connecticut community and beyond. Given the virtual nature of this year’s event, we believe it’s easier than ever to get involved.”