Warm the Children helps family with 10 kids

By Brenda Maguire

NEW BRITAIN— Frank Bradley has been a volunteer shopper for six years. He’s seen just about everything from a family bringing all of their seven children along for the trip to a father who didn’t know his children’s sizes.

“I have done a few sixes and I did one seven,” Bradley said. “But, most of them are three or four.”

Erik Atkinson and Risa Bunce learned about the Warm the Children program when they were referred by their daughter’s school this year. Atkinson was laid off six months ago and Bunce is unemployed, so they welcomed the help.

“He’s making their day,” Atkinson said of Bradley, adding, “It’s definitely fun shopping. I’m a guy who likes to shop.”

Continue reading “Warm the Children helps family with 10 kids”

Transplanted pipe organ to undergo renovation

By Brenda Maguire

At a bygone time when New Britain residents were drawn to the mills for work, in 1926 to be specific, the Austin Pipe Organ Opus 1457 made the Strand Theater its home.

The theater, on land downtown now occupied by Central Connecticut State University, adjacent to the police station under construction, was one of the biggest movie theaters in New England, seating more than 2,000 people.

But now, many years later and with the theater since razed, the organ’s home is just over 100 miles away at the Original Congregational Church in Wrentham, Mass., where it’s about to undergo a $79,000 renovation of the pipe chamber, the room behind the altar that holds the majority of the organ’s pipes.

“The pipe chamber is out of sight, and therefore out of mind,” said Bill Wallhausser, head of the church committee to restore the organ.

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Honor students find helping others to be ‘a-peeling’

Photo by Brenda Maguire

By Brenda Maguire

NEW BRITAIN — It may not have been the classroom setting to which they’re accustomed, but members of the National Junior Honor Society from Louis P. Slade Middle School and Roosevelt Middle School Tuesday morning were more than happy to take time out of their school day to experience volunteering at the Friendship Service Center on Arch Street.

“None of them have done it before so it’s new to them,” said Jim Clerkin, guidance counselor at Slade Middle School. “They’re getting a head start in volunteering and community service, and they’re going to need that in high school.” Continue reading “Honor students find helping others to be ‘a-peeling’”

Reporter finds every piece of clothing has a warming tale

Photo by Brenda Maguire

By Brenda Maguire

NEW BRITAIN — Over the last 11 weeks, I have written a weekly story tracking the progress of the Warm the Children campaign.

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating as a volunteer shopper.

Ana Torres and I met at the Target on Hartford Road in New Britain to go shopping for her four children: Luis Sanchez, 10, Amarilys Torres, 8, Eliel Colon, 6, and Jazmin Morales, 14.

Torres had been involved in the Warm the Children campaign in the past because of her family’s financial situation.

“It means a lot for me and my children,” she said.

Continue reading “Reporter finds every piece of clothing has a warming tale”

Literacy bags help moms, children interact and learn

By Brenda Maguire

NEW BRITAIN — The children were all smiles in the Cloud Room at the YWCA one day last week as they sat on their mothers’ laps playing with new toys and looking over books.

The toys and books were part of the 15 literacy bags that the Junior League of Greater New Britain, a local organization of women who promote volunteerism, donated to the literacy program at the YWCA on Glen Street.

“It’s a way of getting parents and kids involved together,” said Donna Griffen, community council director of the Junior League, adding, “It seemed like a worthwhile project.”

The parents in the program are working toward obtaining their General Educational Development (GED) degree or are learning English as a second language. While they’re in class, their children are in childcare at the YWCA in the “play and learn room” where they are also learning how to read.

Continue reading “Literacy bags help moms, children interact and learn”

New Britain’s HALS Academy a ‘success story school’

By Brenda Maguire

NEW BRITAIN — A middle school in the city, HALS Academy, is one of 24 public schools being honored by a state education advocacy group.

HALS Academy, or House of Arts, Letters and Science Academy, on Pendleton Road in New Britain was named one of this year’s “success story schools.”

“To have state recognition of course is wonderful,” said Principal Elaine Zottola. “It just validates that our students are performing well and our teachers are doing their jobs.”

The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now every year reviews more than 1,000 public schools to determine which ones will be recognized.

Continue reading “New Britain’s HALS Academy a ‘success story school’”

Volunteer shoppers happy to be part of Warm the Children

By Brenda Maguire

NEW BRITAIN— A few years ago Evelyn Lopez found herself shopping in Walmart with seven children for their winter clothing. She went through the clothing racks finding the perfect winter clothing for each child.

“They were so happy,” she recalled.

That was just one of many memories Lopez has from her six years participating as a volunteer shopper in Warm the Children. Another was a day where she took more than 10 parents out at the same time to do the shopping.

Warm the Children has reached a total of $32,030 in donations, which gives the campaign enough to clothe at least 625 New Britain children.

Starting this week, volunteer shoppers will be taking the low-income families out to the Target on 475 Hartford Road in New Britain to purchase jackets, scarves, hats, mittens or whatever else the children in that family may need in the winter months.

Continue reading “Volunteer shoppers happy to be part of Warm the Children”

Amato’s seeks to brighten holidays for needy kids

By Brenda Maguire

NEW BRITAIN — This holiday season Amato’s Toy & Hobby isn’t just concerned with selling trains and model planes, but also to donate toys to low-income children with help from customers.

“I figure you can’t blame a child. No matter where they are in their lives, it’s not their fault,” said Steven Amato, owner of Amato’s Toy & Hobby at 283 Main St.

The store is asking for monetary donations starting Wednesday from customers and in turn will provide $2 worth of toys for every $1 donated.

“It gets the customer involved,” Amato said, adding, “They know their donation will be multiplied.”

Continue reading “Amato’s seeks to brighten holidays for needy kids”