United Way set to begin Joy of Sharing

The holidays are just around the corner, which means the giving season is upon us. The United Way of West Central Connecticut is once again holding four drives to help out those less fortunate and is encouraging the community in the towns it covers to participate.
The 14th annual Joy of Sharing program covers the United Way’s four towns, Bristol, Burlington, Plainville and Plymouth, and will be collecting food, toys and monetary donations in the upcoming weeks.
Last year, Director of Marketing & Community Relations for the United Way of West Central Connecticut Colleen Bolingbroke said the organization was able to provide food to all of the local food pantries and soup kitchens for holiday baskets for families to have on Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition to that, the United Way collected 2,700 toys and gifts to be distributed to local children at Christmas.
This year the United Way is looking to do that all over again, and help out others in need during this holiday season. The Bristol-based organization is looking for non-perishable food items for Thanksgiving and Christmas. These items will help stock shelves at the local food pantries, and be given to residents in need so they can make a holiday meal.
These items will be collected during the Thanksgiving Food Drive, which will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 14 and Thursday, Nov. 15, and the Christmas Food Drive, held on Thursday, Dec. 13 and Friday, Dec. 14. Items can be dropped off on either of those days at the United Way’s office, 200 Main St., Bristol, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Another drive area residents can participate in is the Holiday Toy and Gift Drive, where unwrapped toys and gifts can be donated for children between 3-years-old and 12-years-old. Bolingbroke said there is often a shortage of items for children between the ages of 10 and 12, so things like “electronics, sports equipment, perfumes and body lotions, and other pre-teen items” are encouraged. These donations can be made at the United Way office on either Thursday, Dec. 13 or Friday, Dec. 14, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Each year, Bolingbroke said, “the donations are given to non-profits and churches in our four towns to give out to their clients and parishioners.” She said it is more efficient for the organization to collect for the other non-profits and churches because it has a larger donor base and allows for one collection point, “instead of donors having to decide where to give their donations. This way, a donor knows the food and gifts are going to local families,” she said.
The United Way of West Central Connecticut is also participating in the Salvation Army Kettle Drive on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Stop & Shop on Pine Street in Forestville. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact United Way of West Central Connecticut Office Manager Rebecca Schulz, who is heading these programs, at the United Way office at (860) 582-9559.