Pictured at J Cuts in Shelton are front row from left: Tylice MacDonald, Lower Naugatuck Valley Parent Child Resource Center; Jennifer Sneider, owner, J Cuts; Karen Martinez, Child FIRST Care Coordinator, LNV PCRC. Back row from left: Jen DeLeon, Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley; Jane Bailey, Shelton School Readiness Council; and Suzanne Reilly, Director, Family Support Services, TEAM Inc. / Contributed photo
SHELTON - When it comes to children in need, the Valley always comes through.
For the eighth consecutive year, an Annual Book Bag & School Supply drive has been a great success. More than 100 book bags and an abundance of back to school supplies were collected this year.
This drive was originally started by the owners of Luther's Garage, which is now closed. It continues on an annual basis through J Cuts at 505 Howe Ave.
Each year beginning July 1, Jennifer Sneider, owner of J Cuts, provides the main collection location for supplies such as book bags, book covers, rulers, pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, binders, glue, crayons, calculators, pencil sharpeners, paper, folders, and more.
"The outpouring kindness of the community always warms my heart," Sneider said. “So many people stop by to drop off donations. Many of my customers do not hesitate to hand me five or 10 dollars so I can pick up what we are falling short on. It is amazing how it all balances out for children in need.”
Minuteman Press at 427B Howe Ave., donated collection posters again this year.
For a third year the Shelton Community Lions Club collected supplies during weekly summer concerts on the Huntington Green. As a result, they were able to contribute greatly to the drive.
The Shelton Community Lions Club purchases eye glasses for less fortunate children, coordinates pediatric eye screenings for daycare centers, and runs a poster contest for 11-13 year olds.
For the first time this year, Rehabilitation Associates, Inc. at 1931 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield, held a collection and dropped off supplies at J Cuts.
In addition, members of the First United Methodist Church in Shelton held their own drive and dropped off some last minute donations.
As an added bonus this year, coordinators of the drive were contacted by Jackie Romaniuk, Dental Health Care Specialist with the Connecticut Dental Health Partnership (CTDHP), the dental plan for HUSKY Health.
They provided oral kits each containing a tooth brush, toothpaste, floss and oral health education.
The CTDHP is the dental plan for HUSKY Health and promotes good oral hygiene to more than 700,000 children and adults on the HUSKY Health plan. For the last two years, CTDHP has partnered with community agencies, primary care providers and OB/GYN offices across the state to share oral health kits with children and pregnant women who are HUSKY Health members.
“The oral health kits contain tips to keep the mouth healthy as well as the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth to maintain a person’s general health," Romaniuk said. "The beginning of the school year traditionally correlates with starting new routines and habits. This seems like the perfect opportunity to spread the oral health message of the importance of daily oral hygiene and scheduling a dental exam.”
HUSKY Health members can contact the CTDHP call center at 855- CT- DENTAL or visit www.ctdhp.com for help connecting to one of the 1,900 dental providers available.
Children receiving donations from this community drive are served by TEAM, Inc.in Derby, the Boys and Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley, Shelton School Readiness Program and the Lower Naugatuck Valley Parent Child Resource Center, all in Shelton, and BHcare in Ansonia.
The oral kits were given to students who received back to school donations, as well as kindergarten students at Irving School in Derby and the Milford Department of Children & Families office.
Monkey Love Drive
J Cuts will be the main collection site beginning Jan. 1 for the Ninth Annual Monkey Love Valentine Drive.
Although this community drive officially kicks off on Jan. 1, donations are accepted at any time. Donations must be new, stuffed monkeys with tags.
This drive will benefit the same groups of children in need as the Back to School Book Bag & School Supply Drive.
The more stuffed monkeys collected, the more the donations will be shared with additional agencies who assist needy children.
Any individual, group, business or organization is welcome to join in the Annual Monkey Love Valentine Drive by holding a collection.
Call Sneider at 203-924-4107 with questions or for more information.
This post is taken from a lightly edited press release from the drive organizers.