By Brenda Maguire
NEW BRITAIN — Frank Bradley of New Britain has been a Warm the Children volunteer shopper for seven years. In that time, there is one memory that really stuck with him.
Three years ago, he was taking a Jamaican woman to Target to buy clothing for her six children and without warning, the six children came along. Two children were strapped in the carts, two children pushed the carts and the other two followed along. “It was like a parade,” said Bradley.
In the first week of the Warm the Children campaign, a joint fundraiser between the New Britain Herald and New Britain Lions Club, many former volunteer shoppers have returned.
“My best experience is when the children come, because you see that look on their face when they’re picking their stuff out,” said Tammy Priest, who has been a shopper for three years.
Shoppers will take selected low-income children shopping to purchase various winter clothing items, such as coats, boots, hats or gloves.
“When I think back on the people I’ve helped it’s a very emotional feeling, especially at Christmas time,” said Bradley, who admitted to getting a little emotional just thinking about it. Bradley, who says he has helped almost 900 kids, was once a single parent and said he is able to identify with many of the women he goes shopping with.
Priest, of New Britain, has also been a single parent and had her first child at 16.
“I hope that I somehow make them feel like they’re not the only ones,” she said.
What makes Warm the Children stick out from similar programs in Bradley’s opinion is that instead of just providing a coat, other clothing children may need including underwear and socks, can be purchased.
Warm the Children is asking for monetary donations to reach its goal of $40,000 in order to provide more than 800 children with clothing.
Bradley, who also donates every year, emphasized that a donation of $25 would pay for half of one child’s bill and that if 10 people donated $10, it would sponsor two kids.
To be a volunteer shopper, submit the coupon that runs with in the newspaper. It can be submitted, along with any donations, to Warm the Children, 1 Court St., New Britain, CT 06051.