Donations sought for 100 boxes of gifts for kids

Fill up those boxes.

That’s the message Holiday Stroll Gifts for Kids wants to spread to Ridgefielders as it kick-starts the season of giving today with donation sites opening up at CVS and Shine Salon.

The sites will collect small toy items generally given as stocking stuffers that will be delivered to less fortunate children.

“What we’re looking for is small items that will fit in a shoebox, such as crayons, little notepads, yo-yos, and gift cards, and we will also be collecting personal products like soap and deodorant — things that kids need but don’t necessarily have,” said Carolyn Gillan.

Ms. Gillan is in charge of the program that is being sponsored by the Toy Chest, CVS, Shine Salon and Spa, and Craig’s Fine Jewelry as a part of the Holiday Stroll this year.

“Our goal is to fill 100 boxes and get all of the boxes to families in need here in Ridgefield.”

Ms. Gillan is working with the town’s social services director, Tony Phillips, to identify families in need and said that if there aren’t enough families in town who sign up for the program, the boxes will go to families in neighboring towns.

Collection will run though Dec. 7 — the day after the stroll, when the boxes will be filled with the donated items and wrapped in the lobby of town hall.

Ms. Gillan added that monetary donations will be accepted and that she and Mr. Phillips will use whatever cash is donated to buy items to fill the boxes.

There will be three types of boxes based on age range: newborn children through the age of two, ages three through 10 for elementary school students, and ages 11 through 17 for middle school and high school students.

“We want this to be a townwide event that becomes a tradition of the holiday season,” Ms. Gillan explained.

The Holiday Stroll Gifts for Kids idea mimics a similar charity event held at Ridgebury Elementary School called “Holiday Hope Chest” that collects toys for underprivileged kids in Danbury.

“We loved the concept and wanted to bring it out for the public to be a part of,” Ms. Gillan said.

She said the boxes would be comparable to the size of a women’s size six shoebox.

“Not a box that’s big enough to fit boots, something smaller than that,” Ms. Gillan said.

She added that the program won’t collect food items because the boxes won’t be distributed for a few weeks.

However, “gift cards for food is more than acceptable,” she said.

While she is focused on the inaugural gift box donation process, Ms. Gillan can’t help but look forward to the possibility of filling more and more boxes each year as the program builds a reputation.

“Obviously, this is our first year, so we don’t want to set the bar too high, but we definitely would like to do more than 100 next year and deliver these boxes to families both in Ridgefield and outside of town,” she said. “I think 500 boxes would be fantastic, but we have to start here and work our way up.”

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