By Brenda Maguire
NEW BRITAIN— As the seasons change and the cold wind starts to blow, children are bundled in jackets, hats and gloves before leaving for school.
But sometimes, that isn’t the case.
New Britain School District social worker Cynthia Romero recalls a student coming into school wearing a short-sleeve shirt with a light sweater over it, their school uniform from a previous school, on days when the weather was cold and wet.
Romero knew this student would need help.
The Warm the Children campaign has been working with social workers at the New Britain School District and the Head Start program at the Human Resources Agency for eight years to help provide children from low-income families with proper winter clothing.
“All of the social workers are excited about it,” said Marie Field, a school social worker in the New Britain School District who has been working with Warm the Children since it started eight years ago.
Social workers get to know the families in the district and generally already know which students will need the help.
“I’ll see how the economy is affecting these families,” Romero said, who later added, “The hard economic time has really hit a lot of our families.”
Social workers also give referral forms to teachers to assist in picking students the social workers may not know as well.
“I usually look to the teachers to guide me to what students are in need,” said Jesenia Rivera, a social worker in the New Britain School District.
After speaking with teachers, Rivera will follow up with the parents of the children to see if the need is actually there.
Often, students who have recently moved from an area that does not have a winter season are helped because their families are trying to get settled and if they have multiple children it is hard to purchase the proper winter attire.
When a child is picked, any sibling they have under the age of 16 will also receive clothing from Warm the Children. The families will then go out with volunteer shoppers to purchase winter clothing with the money that has been donated to the campaign.
“It’s been wonderful,” said Field about working with Warm the Children. “I’ve heard feedback from the parents who have gone and they’ve all had great experiences with the volunteer shoppers.”
In the first three weeks of the campaign, Warm the Children has raised $21,613.
The goal of the campaign is to raise $40,000, which will provide clothing for at least 800 children.
Donations can be submitted, along with the volunteer shopper form, to Warm the Children, 1 Court St., New Britain, CT 06051.