Many helped by back-to-school drive

Nearly 80 book bags and piles of back-to-school items were collected during the Annual Book Bag & School Supply drive this summer.

“The outpouring kindness of the community always warms my heart,” said Jennifer Sneider who heads the drive. “So many people stop by to drop off donations. Many of my customers do not hesitate to hand me five or ten dollars so I can pick up what we are falling short on. It is amazing how it all balances out for children in need.”

This drive, originally started by the owners of Luther’s Garage, which is now closed, continues on an annual basis through J Cuts. Each year Sneider, owner of J Cuts in Shelton, holds the main collection location for supplies such as book bags, book covers, rulers, pencils and other school items.

Support from community

For the third year in a row, Dave Haddad, president of the Shelton Community Lion’s Club, led the organization on a weekly collection during the concerts on the Huntington Green.

“When I first heard about this project, I immediately wanted to get the Lions Club involved,” he said. “We already purchase eye glasses for less fortunate kids, run pediatric eye screenings for daycare centers and run a poster contest for ages 11-13 year-olds, so why not get involved in collecting school supplies? Since we already have a table at the summer concerts on the Huntington Green, I thought we could use it as a collection point for people going to the concert. Every child wants to make a good impression on the first day of school and be proud of the clothes they have on and the backpack and supplies they have. I think this helps their self esteem and positive thinking so they can concentrate on learning.”

This year for the first time, Haynes Materials, which is headquartered in Seymour, held collections throughout their various locations around Connecticut.

Those who were helped

“This is such an important project and we are grateful that Irving School has been selected to receive backpacks and school supplies for some of our students. This will surely make a difference and will help our students feel prepared for the first day of school,” Jennifer Olson, principal at Irving School in Derby.

Children receiving donations from this community drive are serviced by TEAM, Inc., Irving School the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley, ACT/Spooner House, Shelton School Readiness Program and the Lower Naugatuck Valley Parent Resource Center.

“Those in need at our shelter are always grateful to those in the community who step forward to donate their time and resources for our benefit,” said Tony Vellucci, development officer at the Spooner House. “We are happy to be working with J Cuts and their seventh Annual Book Bag and School Supply Drive. Our children and young adults who receive these needed supplies will have one less worry as they embark on an exciting new school year.”

J Cuts will be the main collection location beginning in the new year for the eighth Annual Monkey Love Valentine Drive. Although this community drive officially kicks off on Jan. 1, donations are accepted at any time. Donations must be new stuffed monkeys, preferably with tags.

This drive will benefit the same groups of children in need as the Back to School Book Bag & School Supply Drive.

Any group, business or organization is welcome to join in the Annual Monkey Love Valentine Drive by holding their own collection. Call Jennifer Sneider at 203-924-4107 for more information.