By KAITLYN NAPLES
Everyone has received that sweater they just won’t ever wear, which still has the tags on it as it sits in their closet. Or they have boxes of candles that will last them for the next 10 years.
These items, unused and taking up space in a drawer or closet, can be used for the greater good this holiday season for the annual re-gifting program.
After a “great response” last year from the community, which donated over 2,000 gifts, the Young Professionals for United Way and Webster Bank are hosting their annual re-gifting program for another year.
Keith Bernier, Webster Bank branch manager, and board member for the Young Professionals and chair of the re-gifting program, said the program is expected to help out 700 to 800 children in Bristol this holiday season. Last year was the first year the Young Professionals took over the program, and it ended up being a success, Bernier said.
The Young Professionals for United Way is a group of individuals, ages 21 to 35, who volunteer, network, or offer fundraisers to others in that age bracket.
The re-gifting program allows community residents to donate unwanted and unused, or gently used items they would have in their home. For example, they may want to donate a duplicate of a candle or book that you otherwise would end up throwing away or a sweater that didn’t fit or you didn’t like. Instead the Young Professionals and Webster Bank will collect these kinds of items at a variety of drop-off locations, and distribute them to students of low-income areas who can choose two gifts to bring home to a loved one for the holidays.
“The community was really great last year, so we knew we had to do it again,” Bernier said, adding that not only are donations helping out another family, but the donor can get rid of something that may have been taking up space. “A lot of times during the holidays people want to give back in some way, and this is a great way.” He added some of his co-workers have been saving things throughout the year to be able to donate to the cause.
“Everyone is really happy that we were able to get the program going again,” he said. The re-gifting program has been going on for over 10 years, and had been run by Bristol Youth Services. But it was in jeopardy of ending last year.
Throughout the month of November, unwrapped items will be collected at several locations. Bernier said some suggestions are grooming kits, gloves, perfume/cologne, posters, books, candles, various ornaments, scarves, mugs, flashlights, sports paraphernalia, games, household decorative items, jewelry, and more. The program is also in need of holiday gift bags and tissue paper. The children that are able to pick out two items for loved ones range in ages from kindergarten to fifth and sixth grade.
“The look of joy on the children’s faces last year was great,” Bernier said. “They were so happy that they were able to go shopping, in a way, for the holidays.”
The students who participate in this program are on free and reduced lunch, live in units overseen by the Bristol Housing Authority, or are members of the Bristol Boys and Girls Club. Bernier said when a child is able to give a gift to a loved one, “it means so much more to them then receiving a gift.”
Drop-off locations in Bristol are as follows: The Bristol Public Library, 5 High St.; The Manross Library, 260 Central St.; Bristol Adult Resource Center, 621 Jerome Ave.;
United Way of West Central Connecticut, 200 Main St.; any Bristol Webster Bank location: 1235 Farmington Ave., 647 Farmington Ave., 150 Main St., and 797 Pine St.
Items can be donated up until Friday, Nov. 30.
For more information, or anyone with questions, can contact Keith Bernier at (860) 585-2945.
By KAITLYN NAPLES