STAMFORD, CONN. -- Hundreds of volunteers have signed up to wrap Christmas gifts for children in need this weekend, but there’s still room for more, says the Stamford-based nonprofit coordinating the annual effort.
Inspirica , a nonprofit with the mission to break the cycle of homelessness by helping people achieve – and maintain – permanent housing and stability in their lives, is partnering with corporate sponsors Eversource, a Fortune 500 energy company based in Hartford.
Inspirica's "Holiday Gift Collection" initiative, now in its 27th year, gathered together 6,000 personalized presents for 3,000 children represented by dozens of social service agencies in Stamford, Bridgeport, Danbury, Darien, Norwalk and other places.
This Saturday, Dec. 10, 500 volunteers will gather at Inspirica, housed in a former YMCA at 141 Franklin St., to put pretty paper and ribbon on the presents, said Coordinator Samantha Middlemass.
The wrapping party will take place in two shifts: from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Middlemass said Wednesday that the afternoon shift is “pretty much filled,” but more volunteers are needed for the morning session.
There will be so many presents, said Middlemass, that they will have to be temporarily stored in the building’s (empty, obviously) “Olympic-size” swimming pool where they will be sorted by the receiving social service agencies.
The agencies will pick up the packages and distribute them to parents and other caretakers so they can be given to the children.
Each child will get two age- and gender-appropriate presents based on their, or their parents’, “wish lists,” Middlemass said.
According to organizers, the need for the annual gift collection is “greater than ever.”
Even though parts of it are considered affluent, Connecticut is one of only 10 states in the nation that has not recovered all the jobs lost in the Great Recession, Inspirica said.
In fact, the organization said, the state has only recovered 69 percent of jobs that were lost, and those “pay less than those they replaced,” meaning that more working families are struggling economically.
"No group has been more adversely affected by the economic climate than the families and the children within them. They struggle to meet even their most basic needs," it added.
Expected to take part in the event are local elected officials and business leaders including Congressman Jim Himes of Greenwich, who represents the 4th District; state Sen. Carlo Leone of Stamford, who represents the 27th District, Stamford Mayor David Martin and Rodney Powell, Eversource’s president of corporate citizenship.
To keep things merry and bright, Santa’s helpers will be treated to holiday tunes spun by a DJ.