Instead of birthday gifts, Ridgefield teen giving back to Women's Center

RIDGEFIELD — Instead of receiving birthday gifts this year, Bella Stewart will be giving them.

The Ridgefield High School sophomore has organized an Oct. 19 food and clothing drive to benefit the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury in honor of her 15th birthday.

She is collecting new clothes, nonperishable food items, toiletries, coloring books and essentials, which can be dropped off at her front porch or in a bin at the Winter Garden Ice Arena.

“For the past few years I have collected items for area charities, (which) I plan on continuing,” Stewart said. “I have donated dog and cat toys to ROAR (Ridgefield Operation Animal Rescue), to the Daily Bread Food Pantry, and this is my second time donating to the Women’s Center.”

The organization is a safe haven for victims of domestic and sexual violence in northern Fairfield and southern Litchfield counties, according to its website. It helps more than 30,000 individuals through free, confidential services in emergency shelter and support, counseling and advocacy, crisis intervention and community education, primary prevention and training.

“Women’s issues are really important to me, and the center is a great organization that provides clothes, food and other items (to) women and their families,” Stewart said. “I have so much and I just love to help those in need. I feel it’s very important.”

Although Stewart hasn’t accumulated many donations, she said the reactions she receives from those who receive her donations are what she cherishes the most.

“It’s amazing to know I’m helping people,” she said. “They’re getting a lot out of what I’m doing,”

Stewart’s drive closes on Oct. 20, the day after her birthday.

Interested donors can email Stewart at bellastewart02@icloud.com for her address or visit the Winter Garden Ice Arena at 111 Prospect Ridge in Ridgefield.

“I can also pick up (donations) at people’s houses if they need,” she added.

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com