NEWINGTON - The townâ€™s back-to-school distribution began Tuesday with an overwhelming amount of families, leaving staff scrambling to find more supplies for others expecting them in coming weeks.
When kids pile onto buses Wednesday, Aug. 30, on the first day of school, they hope to be armed with all the right goods for a successful classroom experience. Those whose parents couldnâ€™t afford to fill their backpacks with all the usual accoutrements depend on the townâ€™s Department of Human Services to fill them.
Distribution continues through August, but after a busy first day this week, staff worry they wonâ€™t have enough to give out before school starts.
â€śEighty-one children were assisted today and we are in need of more supplies,â€ť financial casework coordinator Pam Wassik said Tuesday after the first round of families had left Town Hall. â€śWe have four more days of distribution and I am fearful that we may run out of supplies.â€ť
Sheâ€™s hoping residents will come to the rescue and deliver more donations as soon as possible. Requested are backpacks of all sizes, flash drives, filler notebook paper, index cards, along with three- and five-subject notebooks.
Thatâ€™s not to say that donations werenâ€™t abundant this summer. Faith-based groups, civic organizations and individual residents stepped up to offer their generosity. However, the department did not expect to have such a large turnout on their first distribution day.
â€śWe want to give a big thank-you to residents, organizations and businesses who donated items,â€ť Human Services Director Carol LaBrecque said. â€śEvery year thereâ€™s a certain group of private residents that make this their annual contribution. Newington is so fortunate. When we put out a request for a need everyone seems to step forward to meet that need.â€ť
That request is back out there now. Donations can be dropped off at the departmentâ€™s offices in Newington Town Hall, 131 Cedar St., during regular hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Last year the program reached about 120 students.
â€śThat number tends to grow every year,â€ť LaBrecque pointed out.
Families who took advantage of the program in the past were mailed a letter notifying them of this yearâ€™s dates for pickup. Those who use the Newington Food Bank and have children under 21 qualify.
The department is currently in the process of reassessing the number of households that use the food bank monthly. Some families do not go regularly but do benefit from the annual Thanksgiving Food Distribution and Holiday Toy and Gift Drive that the office facilitates.
The remaining days to pick up items are Thursday, Aug. 17, from 9 a.m. to noon; Tuesday, Aug. 22, from noon to 3 p.m.; Thursday, Aug. 24, from 9 a.m. to noon; and Monday, Aug. 28, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Those who are unsure if their family qualifies should bring proof of Newington residence, income and information about their household.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.