Op-Ed: Giving thanks, giving back - five agencies in need of support
With the season of giving thanks right around the corner, it’s a time of year to remember the importance of giving back.
A recent CT Post article highlighted the unique needs of one incredible Stratford organization, the Sterling House Community Center, which provides many services including support for children who lack consistent food access on the weekends. The story reminded me of how blessed our community is to have organizations that care so deeply - and how important it is for us to support those organizations in the amazing work they do every day.
Here are a few examples of organizations that we can all help support.
Sterling House Community Center
Sterling House offers a food pantry, athletics, preschool, after school, summer camp, youth and adult programs, and much more.
Sterling House Community Center’s Food 4 Kids program provides meals to students on the weekends to avoid hunger. An estimated more than 200 kids in Stratford struggle with consistent access to food on weekends. The backpack program is a partnership between Sterling House, the Stratford public schools and Sodexo. They pack backpacks with six easily prepared, non-perishable meals and two snacks each weekend. The backpacks are dropped off at schools on Thursday, and the kids bring them back on Monday. It costs $7 to feed a child for a weekend, or $245 per year. Donations are welcome, and there are drop-off bins on Sterling House’s first floor, 2283 Main Street. Some suggested items: easy-open cans of baked beans, soup, fruit and veggies, ramen noodles, cereal, granola bars, juice boxes. You can also donate through the Sterling House website.
Sterling House also runs a Thanksgiving Basket Project to provide the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner to Stratford families. Food donations, monetary and store gift cards all welcome.
For more information on these programs and others contact 203- 378-2606 or visit sterlinghousecc.org.
Spooner House is operated by Area Congregations Together, Inc. with the mission of providing food, shelter and support services to people in need. Every year, the center provides emergency shelter to more than 100 individuals, as well as more than 25,000 meals to residents. This is the only homeless shelter in the Lower Naugatuck Valley and one of the few in the state that welcomes families with children as well as individual adults.
In addition to the community-based shelter services, including meals for residents and case management services, the shelter also works with the VA to provide services to veterans and their families, regardless of the family composition or ages of the children. Spooner House provides 125,000 meals annually to clients utilizing their food bank.
Spooner House will soon be launching its annual Operation Holiday initiative to provide holiday meals, consisting of a frozen turkey and all the trimmings, at Thanksgiving and Christmas to approximately 500 to 600 households, in addition to regular food pantry service, as well as gift cards to shelter residents at the holidays.
For more information on how to donate or volunteer visit actspooner.org or call 203-225-0453. If you are in need of food bank assistance, please call 203-225-0453 extension 100 to make an appointment. Location: 30 Todd Road, Shelton.
Monroe Food Pantry
As part of the Department of Community and Social Services, the Monroe Food Pantry provides food assistance for individuals and families in Monroe. The pantry provides a week’s worth of food and other necessary items to more than 200 households per year. Volunteers help sort food, stock shelves, assist clients with “shopping” for their groceries at the pantry, and deliver food to those who cannot get to the pantry on their own. Donations of nonperishable foods are regularly accepted,and monetary donations can be used to purchase perishable goods and other items that are not often donated. The pantry is open on Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m., and one Saturday per month (call for Saturday hours). The pantry is located at 980 Monroe Turnpike, where there is also a large red donation bin for dropping off non-perishable food items when the pantry is closed. Monetary donations and grocery store gift cards can be mailed and addressed to: Monroe Food Pantry, 7 Fan Hill Road, Monroe.
For more information, please call 203-452-2817, or visit either www.monroect.org/Food-Pantry or https://www.facebook.com/Monroe-Food-Pantry-479857292037911/.
Seymour Oxford Food Bank
The Seymour Oxford Clergy Association established the Seymour Oxford Food Bank in 1979 to meet the growing request for food assistance within the church communities for members who fell below the poverty level. In 1981, the SOFB was made available to all the residents of Seymour and Oxford and became a member of the Valley Food Bank Networks. The food bank relocated to the basement of the Seymour Community Center in December, 2015 where more space allows people to shop for themselves, with the assistance of a Shopping Pal. The following June, the SOFB received its 501c3 charitable organization status allowing for all contributions to be fully tax-deductible.
Office and donation hours are Monday-Thursday 9 to 11 a.m. Client shopping, by appointment, takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and produce shopping (no appointment needed) is on Wednesdays from 9 to 10 a.m. Residents can contact the food bank to make an appointment for completing paperwork to confirm eligibility.
The Seymour Oxford Food Bank is an all-volunteer organization and as such, volunteers are always needed to help stock shelves, shop with clients or pick up donations from local stores.
For more information visit seymouroxfordfoodbank.com or call 203-888-7826. Location: 20 Pine Street, Seymour.
TEAM’s mission is to strengthen our communities by educating, supporting, and empowering individuals and families. TEAM offers many services ranging from early childhood& Head Start, basic needs and case management services, elderly services & Meals on Wheels, employment and training supports, housing supports, and more. TEAM’s partnership with the Child and Adult Food Care Program allows TEAM Inc. to provide nutritious mealsand snacks to children enrolled within a center based or licensed family childcare option at no cost to enrolled families. TEAM also runs a “Meals on Wheels” program that provides food and safety checks to support seniors aging in place in Seymour, Shelton and other Valley area towns.
For more information on how to help or access services available visit teaminc.org or call 203-736-5420. Multiple locations; visit teaminc.org for more info.
State Sen. Kevin Kelly lives in Stratford and represents the 21st Senate District including Monroe, Seymour, Shelton and Stratford. He serves as the ranking member of the General Assembly’s Insurance Committee, Children’s Committee,and Aging Committee. More information at www.senatorkevinkelly.com.