Monthly Archives: January 2012

Holiday Party/Toy Shoppe Event 2011

Courtesy of David Newman

What do you get when you mix a DJ, tons of garland, hundreds of toys and happy families – Hands On Hartford’s annual Holiday Party and Toy Shoppe. Every December, for the past two decades, Hands On Hartford has hosted a festive holiday party with refreshments and entertainment for many of the families whom we serve as well as an opportunity for the parents to “shop” (free of course) for gifts for their children.

Courtesy of David Newman

The December 15th festivity provided loads of holiday cheer to 105 families – in total we had 312 attendees at the event. The children who attended were treated to face painting, arts & crafts, and danced to the sounds of a DJ who totally engaged them with houla hoops and colored lights. As the children were entertained in the party room, their parents, quietly shopped for toys and other gift items in the “Toy Shoppe Room.”

Courtesy of David Newman

 Each parent was given $40 Santa Bucks to shop per child and the parents selected items utilizing a choice model. Among this year’s popular selections were Lalaloopsy, all things Captain America, Pillow Pets and Hello Kitty products (cupcake maker, gumball machine, toaster, etc.). After leaving the “Toy Shoppe Room” parents had the option of moving on to the giftwrapping station where they could have their selections wrapped. While they waited for their gifts to be wrapped, they perused the books on the book table – where every family was alloted a book of their choice.

Courtesy of David Newman

Our annual Holiday Party/Toy Shoppe is made possible via our partnership with Avon Old Farms (AOF) School. For twenty-nine years, AOF has raised a significant amount of money during the holiday season and procured toys for those in need. However, Hands On Hartford has been the beneficiary of their generosity for twenty years. Every year, for a two week period, AOF does significant fundraising for this event with various activities including:

• Hosting a live concert and dance, with a $5.00 admission charge, on Saturday, December 3rd.

• Selling t-shirts and rally towels to be sported during athletic contests

 • Hosting its annual Italian Dinner on Friday, December 9th , with a small donation requested for admission

• Fasting (students) all day in anticipation of the Boar’s Head Festival on Tuesday, December 13; the money saved from not providing lunch was donated to the fundraising efforts.

Courtesy of David Newman

This year they raised approximately $16,000 – which not only purchased the toys and books that we distributed but also sponsored the actual party. Three days before the actual event staff from Hands On Hartford, met with a team of 13 students, as well as staff (including the headmaster) who shopped for the toys for our families based on a shopping list that we provided them. The boys shopped with their hearts and souls, schlepped everything back to their school for a morning assembly the following day and then delivered the toys to South Church for the event on the 15th before breaking for winter recess.

Courtesy of David Newman

 This event was volunteer intensive and would not have been possible without the help of dozens of volunteers who helped to sort and transport toys, gift wrap, help parents with their toy selection, face paint, serve food, etc. Moreover, the donations of candy, baked goods, gift wrapping paper, etc. were truly appreciated. This event truly took a village and was a huge success as a consequence of everyone pitching in. Thank you AOF for helping us to spread joy and happiness to 105 families in Hartford this holiday season!

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Insurity Shows their Skills at Ebony Horsewomen

 

When Ebony Horsewomen first approached Hands On Hartford a few weeks back about their organizational needs, we thought it would take time to find the right blend of skilled based passionate volunteers for their labor intensive projects. However, after reaching out to our corporate friends at Insurity, formerly LexisNexis, for assistance we knew that Ebony Horsewomen’s needs would be met sooner than later.

Ebony Horsewomen is an innovative, nationally recognized program that puts children and teens together with horses in an effort to heal and encourage. And they do it where it’s needed most: in the very heart of Hartford’s Northeast neighborhood. Moreover, they run an after school program whereby they not only expose children to horses but also to a plethora of animals such as rabbits, chickens, goats, ferrets, etc.

When we intitially contacted Insurity, it was for help removing felled and snapped limbs that were obstructing the horses in their paddocks. However, when Stuart Jensen, the team’s leader visited the site, and saw the other immiment needs he presented them to the team. Ebony Horsewomen was in desperate need of saddle racks, boot racks and a place where kids could put their books and knapsacks.  One of the main challenges that the team faced was no resources. They needed raw materials such as wood to tackle their projects; they decided to turn to their co-workers and had no problem finding willing individuals to bring this holiday gift to Ebony Horsewomen. 

The build team consisted of five employees.  They designed a Boot Rack,  Saddle Rack and Cubbies.  A couple of the members spent many hours of their personal time at Home Depot selecting materials and working in their home work shops prefabricating these items in preparation for the actual project day.  On Wednesday Dec 14th the build team went on site to assemble and install a Boot Rack to hold 40 pairs of boots, 26 Saddle Racks and two cubby storage units.  It was a great day of giving and team building.  The kids and staff were ecstatic. The team used their personal funds to make these projects a reality and they’re not done yet. Next on the agenda – rabbit cages. Thanks team Insurity for your passion and workmanship.

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