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'Tis the Season to Donate

There are lots of ways to give this holiday season in Avon.

Every holiday season, local food pantries and community services reach out to their neighbors for donations for the needy. Avon residents have several ways to be charitable:

1. The town's Department of Social Services is sponsoring a Holiday Gift/Food Basket Program. Donors may purchase gift cards to local grocery stores or put together a food basket. The department will provide a suggested menu.

Food baskets may be dropped off any time before 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 22 at the Church of St. Ann, 289 Arch Road. Gift cards may be dropped off any time before Dec. 22 at Avon Social Services, 60 West Main St., Bldg. 5, second floor, or mailed to Avon Social Services, 60 West Main St., Avon, CT  06001.

2. In addition, the town of Avon is seeking donors to sponsor an Avon family in need for the Christmas holiday. Sponsors may decide whether they would like to donate food for a holiday meal and/or gifts.

Call 860-409-4346 for more information about sponsoring a family.

3. The Avon Food Bank  seeks donations of non-perishable food and also accepts cash donations to buy items that are in short supply or unavailable.  The food bank is on the ground floor of the Church of St. Ann, 289 Arch Road, and may be accessed through the lower, rear entrance. 

Those who wish to use or donate to the food bank should call the Department of Social Services, (860) 409-4346.

4. This holiday season, you can once again send a message of caring and support to families in need through 's Holiday Program.  The organization, based at 35 East Main St. in Old Avon Village, provides basic needs – food, clothing, furniture and household items – to people in the Greater Hartford area. The families who are served face a short-term crisis in their lives because of reduced working hours, illness, divorce, death of a spouse/mate, domestic abuse or a significant unexpected increase in expenses.

Gift of Love's Holiday Shop is new this year, where new toys, new clothing and new household items are displayed in a retail-type setting. The clients are invited to browse through and choose a select number of gifts for their families.  In addition, gift cards to various stores are given to the parents of teenagers and grocery store gift cards are given to clients for a holiday meal.  All items in the store are donated and are given to clients at no cost.

Gifts of Love is also seeking the donation of gift bags, wrapping paper, tape, name tags and bows. Volunteers are also needed in the holiday shop assisting clients with their shopping, organizing donations and stocking the shop.

If you would like to participate in the Holiday Giving Program or if you would like to make a donation, contact Chris Napierski at (860) 676-2323 or email cnapierski@giftsoflovect.org.

5. The , 289 Arch Road, is collecting Christmas gifts for young children at St. Michael's, the Catholic Worker House, Family Life Center of Hartford, St. Ann's Parish in Hartford and the McDonough School first grade in Hartford.

Call 860-673-9858 for more information about donating a gift. 

6. You can make a child's wish come true by donating to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, which delivers shiny new toys to underprivileged children.

A new, unwrapped toy may be dropped off in Avon at , 21 West Main St., or OFS Fitel LLC, 55 Darling Drive. Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us in West Hartford are also toy drop locations.

7. Foodshare, the regional food bank for Hartford County, accepts donations of food at two locations: its distribution center at 450 Woodland Ave., Bloomfield,  and a satellite facility in the Connecticut Regional Market at 101 Reserve Road, Hartford. Foodshare also welcomes monetary donations.  
  
For more information, contact Foodshare, (860) 286-9999 or visit www.foodshare.org

8. The American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes Inc., have joined forces to ask Americans to "send a touch of home" to U.S. service members and veterans. The Holiday Mail for Heroes program is a way to say thanks by way of a greeting card.

 For more information, visit www.redcross.org/holidaymail, where you may also choose to make a donation in support of the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program.

9. The American Red Cross is also asking people to donate blood. A blood drive will be held Dec. 22 from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Avon Congregational Church, 6 West Main St. Additional blood drives are scheduled at the American Red Cross Farmington Blood Donation Center, 209 Farmington Ave., on Dec. 1, from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Dec. 2, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.;  Dec. 4, 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Dec. 8, 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Dec. 11, 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. ; Dec. 15, 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.;  Dec. 18, 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. ; and Dec. 24, 6:30 a.m. to noon. There will also be a blood drive at the Farmington police station, 319 New Britain Ave, Unionville, Dec. 22, 2010, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 860-678-2700 or visit www.redcrossblood.org/make-donation.

Editor's Note: Everyone makes mistakes... even us! If there's something in this article that you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, give Local Editor Jessie Sawyer a ring at 860-356-6339 or shoot her an e-mail at Jessie.Sawyer@patch.com.

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