Volunteer shoppers happy to be part of Warm the Children

By Brenda Maguire

NEW BRITAIN— A few years ago Evelyn Lopez found herself shopping in Walmart with seven children for their winter clothing. She went through the clothing racks finding the perfect winter clothing for each child.

“They were so happy,” she recalled.

That was just one of many memories Lopez has from her six years participating as a volunteer shopper in Warm the Children. Another was a day where she took more than 10 parents out at the same time to do the shopping.

Warm the Children has reached a total of $32,030 in donations, which gives the campaign enough to clothe at least 625 New Britain children.

Starting this week, volunteer shoppers will be taking the low-income families out to the Target on 475 Hartford Road in New Britain to purchase jackets, scarves, hats, mittens or whatever else the children in that family may need in the winter months.

“I feel like I’m being Santa Claus,” Lopez said.

For the last four years Margie Ustach of Aon Hewitt Associates has coordinated a group of about 20 employees to help with the volunteer shopping.

“It’s such a wonderful way to contribute to the community,” she said. “It’s very rewarding, especially when you see how excited they get.”

Ustach added that the 20 volunteer shoppers will usually help more than 100 children in their shopping.

“It’s just a really feel good type of volunteering,” Ustach said, adding, “You know you’re making a difference in that family’s lives.”

Lopez said she enjoys being part of Warm the Children because she is showing her 7-year-old son that even if you are unable to donate money, you can still give what you can and donate time.

“I’m able to help the children because it’s all about the children,” Lopez said, adding, “I feel like I’m doing something for New Britain.”

The campaign still needs help to reach its goal of $40,000. Donations can be sent to Warm the Children, 1 Court St., New Britain, CT 06051.

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