It’s hard to believe we are already halfway through January in a new year, and it seems like we are just catching our breath here at Hands On Hartford after a wonderful, warm, generous and exciting holiday season!
Starting with Thanksgiving, there was an incredible outpouring of support from many of our friends all for the benefit of our Hartford neighbors. Employees at Travelers donated 4,000 pounds of Thanksgiving food in beautifully decorated boxes, along with $8,000 in gift cards. And Virtus Investment employees donated another 3,600 pounds of food, all for Thanksgiving. Altogether, in November, we received 17,698 pounds of food donations to help stock the food pantry and make sure all of our clients could enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving Meal.
On top of this, we received a special donation from Whole Foods Market of 50 fully prepared Thanksgiving Dinners for two which were especially helpful for our clients who are not able to cook their own meals because of disabilities or limitations on mobility. And we had over 300 families visit in the days before Thanksgiving to bring home a turkey and all of the fixings for meals they would cook at home. Finally, on Thanksgiving Day, 173 guests attended our Community Meal prepared by Chefs Kim and Helen (with help from Governor Malloy and other volunteers), and enjoyed a wonderful event with special support from the Goodman and Howe families who have been supporting this event for years.
Before we turned around, we were hosting the annual Toy Shoppe holiday celebration, where parents “shopped” for gifts for their children, while the children enjoyed a party with pizza, cookies, arts and crafts, dancing and a visit with Santa Claus. As in past years, the toys were provided by Avon Old Farms School and the event was sponsored by United Health Care, Infoshred and First Church Simsbury. The next week we hosted a rocking party for HOH tenants, staff, interns and friends, and DJ Jon Eastman kept us dancing all evening. 5 days later, we hosted a Christmas Day community meal, where everyone enjoyed a delicious meal (with seconds and thirds) and gifts bags for all thanks to The Hartford and Girl Scout Troop 10264.
We started the year out with a bang at a New Year’s Day community meal, with much help from a group from First Church Simsbury who brought decorations, balloons and bingo prizes, along with tasty treats for dessert. And this year, we were able to offer special holiday gifts for all of the children attending the New Year’s Day meal – what fun the kids had picking out their own gifts.
Being involved with all of these holiday events, and witnessing all of the support this community provides to our Hartford neighbors, reminds us what a great community we live in and how powerful we are working together to make the world a better place for us all.