The Hamden Journal

Volume X. No. 46                 Wednesday, November 14, 2007                                  16 Pages

 

A youthful volunteer stands by the open hatch of a full vehicle at St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen as the Hamden Academy of Kempo dropped off its first load of donations.

 

Hamden gives back for holiday season

By Marla Hoffman

Editor

 

The holiday season is a time of year when generosity goes a long way, especially toward helping people who are experiencing financial hard times.

Organizations like the Keefe Center and the Hamden Food Bank on Dixwell Avenue are able to help struggling Hamden families have a more joyful holiday season. The Keefe Center’s biggest charitable events of the year center around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Keefe Center runs two big drives each holiday season, according to John Cabral Jr., program specialist for the community service department.

The Thanksgiving drive takes food donations for distribution at the center the week before the holiday. The Christmas drive takes mostly toy donations, according to Siraj Muhammad who works for the community service department and is in charge of the Hamden Food Bank.

Donations are given to families who put their names on the center’s list. The deadline for the Thanksgiving distribution list has passed, however, anyone who signs up now will be put on a waiting list. Donations are still being taken, and distribution is scheduled for this week.

According to Cabral, the Christmas drive works the same way. Families enter their names on a list and on set day the toys are set up at the center for distribution. This year there are more names than ever, said Cabral. Donations are greatly appreciated.

“There are so many wonderful stories we’ve seen,” said Muhammad, recalling people from years past. “This girl came in who had nothing. She was really smart, even had a bachelor’s degree, but she was physically unable to work.

“She was a single mother with four kids. She signed up on Thanksgiving to get food. On Christmas we surprised her kids, though.”

According to Muhammad the toys just showed up at their door. “She was so happy. Each of the kids got three toys, whatever they wanted the most.

“In particular”, he said, “I think about her because she was so smart, but physically she had a hard time. It was a very unfortunate situation.”

Muhammad and Cabral work every year with people with similar situations on thanksgiving and Christmas, giving out thousands of turkeys and toys to needy families.

People line up for hours before we open on Christmas to get toys,” said Muhammad. “It’s like a store in here.”

To make or receive a donation for either the Christmas or Thanksgiving drives, call Muhammad at the Keefe Center at 562-5129.

Other community organizations take part in giving to Hamden families in need during the holiday season, including the Academy of Kempo Martial Arts of Hamden. Every year the academy participates in a food collection.

Volunteers dropped off their first load of food at Saint Ann’s Soup Kitchen last week. Students, families and friends of the have donated more than 25 bags of non-perishable food to date and continue to donate on a weekly basis.

The Academy is offering students a free semi-private lesson for any five non-perishable items they donate and two weeks of free lessons to non-students, limited to one give away per person, which can not be combined. The academy is hoping this will encourage more people to give. People can contribute without accepting the offer if they choose.

The Academy of Kempo Martial Arts is accepting donations now through the end of the holiday season, at any one of its donation centers throughout Connecticut. The Academy of Kempo Martial Arts in Hamden is located at 1890 Dixwell Avenue. For more information on the donation centers or how to get involved you can call the academy at (203) 288-9990, or visit the website, www.academyofkempo.com.

Click here to view our Donation Centers and Sponsors

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