Redding holds Frosty the snowman holiday gift drive

The Frosty the Snowman holiday gift drive is taking place in Redding through Friday, Dec. 8.The Frosty the Snowman holiday gift drive is taking place in Redding through Friday, Dec. 8. 

Frosty the snowman displays are set up at Redding Elementary School, John Read Middle School and Redding Town Hall.

Each Frosty has about 50 tags with specific requests for items from children in the area “who need a little extra help this year,” said Nicole Lilley of Redding, who helps run the Redding Elementary School Community Outreach Program.

“The idea is to grab a tag off of Frosty, write your name in the log book, buy the gift that is wished for and return it to our collection box next to Frosty with the tag attached,” Lilley said. “In this way, we can keep track of where each gift is going.”

Lilley said that while the instructions seem relatively simple, “it makes a huge impact when you consider that about 150 kids will have gifts this year due to the generosity of our little community.”

The three organizations the community outreach program is supporting for the Frosty program are Redding Social Services, Kids in Crisis of Greenwich and the Boys and Girls Village of Bridgeport.

“We get lists from these three different organizations and they talk to the kids who are in need, who give a wish,” she explained. “Most of the wishes from the littlest kids go quickly.”

Lilley said the goal is to collect all the gifts by Saturday, Dec. 9, and organize and deliver them by the beginning of the following week.

She said that while she thinks of the town of Redding as a very affluent, educated place, it’s important for residents to realize that there are families in need.

She said that one of the tags on the Frosty is from a 6 year old child who is asking for underwear and socks for Christmas. “It’s really heartbreaking and it’s been eye-opening,” Lilley said. “I have a 6 year old. It makes you feel really grateful for what you do have.”

Licensed Clinical Social Worker Angelica Fontanez, director of social services for the town of Redding, said the families who are in need come through her to apply for the Frosty program.

Other programs she works with include the energy assistance program, the food pantry, the food stamps program, the scholarship program, and the Alice United Way grant program. “The families usually have a financial criteria they have to meet to be part of these programs,” ” Fontanez said

She said the benefit of the Frosty program is it allows families are going through a tough time to be able to buy a special gift for their child.

According to Fontanez, there are about 25 Redding children on her list who are in need, from about 15 to 20 families. The children’s parents supply the information on what their children need.

Fontanez added that the Frosty program is now looking for contributions of gift cards.

“Gift cards provide confidentiality,” she said. “Our parking lot is a public place. Last year, when people were leaving my office with their gifts, it became obvious that they were part of a gift program. It’s important for me to give confidentiality to my clients.”

Fontanez said there are multiple reasons why families need social services. “There is one family where someone lost their job suddenly and they are transitioning.”

She added that there are also several families who have a parent who is dying of an illness and therefore, can’t work.

“For one day a year, these children deserve to feel like they are just like every other kid in their classroom,” said First Selectman Julia Pemberton.

Those who are interested in contributing to the Frosty holiday gift drive may give a cash donation at any time. Gift cards are welcome year round and can be mailed to PO Box 1118, Redding, CT 06875. Gift cards and donations can also be dropped off at the Redding Community Center, 37 Lonetown Road.

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