Programs - Learn About All the Ways You Can Help

Programs that are effective in reducing poverty and producing positive outcomes are a smart investment with broad societal benefits. According to the "2004 Kids Count Data Book" published by the CT Association for Human Services, lifting low-income working families out of poverty strengthens the overall economy. Families that become self-sufficient create a more stable workforce and strengthen the state's general financial system.

To this end, individuals and families that are served by Gifts of Love's programs, including the Basis Needs Program, face a short-term crisis in their lives due to the loss of employment, reduced working hours, illness, divorce, death of a spouse/mate, domestic abuse, or a significant unexpected increase in expenses. By helping clients meet their families most basic needs - food on the table, adequate clothing, or a bed in which to sleep - we enable them to focus on putting their lives back in order and regain self-sufficiency.

We offer assistance to our clients for a period of up to one year, although each case is monitored and evaluated separately. Through our emergency services, we also assist a number of families on a one-time basis. All support is provided free of charge.

Gifts of Love's current programs include:

Food Pantry: Enables clients to “shop” for food, paper goods, personal hygiene items, meat and fresh vegetables once per month by appointment. In 2012, Gifts of Love gave away more than 10,000 bags of food.

Clothes "Store": Clients can "shop" for in-season clothing for their entire family. In 2012, Gifts of Love distributed more than 3,000 bags of clothing.

Linen Closet and Household Items: We offer an array of good-quality bed linens, towels, curtains and the like donated by area residents. Our Household Room has pots, pans, dishes, small appliances and other kitcehn and household items. Gifts of Love assisted 13,045 people last year.

Furniture Program: This unique service transfers usable furniture for various reasons, including a new addition to the family or those starting a new home due to divorce, fire or exiting an abusive situation. Items most in demand are beds, pack and plays, dressers and kitchen tables–the most basic needs of a household. GoL has a truck for furniture pick-up and delivery and an off-site storage space. The agency distributed over $50,000 in furniture and household items last year.

Holiday Sponsorships: Local residents, organizations, churches and businesses assure that everyone has the means to celebrate the season by sponsoring a family at the Holidays. Assisting a struggling family during the Holidays is at the heart of “families helping families.” Gifts of Love assisted 6,392 adults last year.

Back to School Program: We provide children with fully stocked backpacks loaded with pencils, paper, dictionaries and more, so that they can start off the school year well supplied. We are proud to assist these children with a solid start to their education. Gifts of Love assisted 6,653 children last year.

Weekend Food Backpack Program: When some students go home on Friday afternoons, they aren’t just leaving behind their studies.  Many of them leave behind the free meals provided at school and return after the weekend with empty stomachs.  That’s why Gifts of Love has instituted a backpack program. Each Friday Gifts of Love distributes backpacks in Avon, Simsbury, Farmington, West Hartford and Canton children full of easy to prepare food and juice to be used by the family over the weekend.  We supply nearly 200 students with weekend food every week.

Farmington Valley Hunger Collaborative: Gifts of Love is part of the Farmington Valley Hunger Collaborative with the food pantries in Avon, Farmington, Canton and Simsbury. We needed to partner with the local food pantries in order to better deliver services and additional support to those in need in the Valley. The Hunger Collaborative is combining resources in order to purchase in bulk, pick up orders at Foodshare as a group and grow food in collaboration with the Community Farm of Simsbury.

Community Farm of Simsbury: Gifts of Love and the Community Farm of Simsbury have merged!  Gifts of Love has been working with the Community Farm of Simsbury for several years growing and harvesting organic fruits and vegetables for the food pantry.  The merge of the two organizations will enable Gifts of Love to continue to grow and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables, offer farm-based educational programming for children and adults, and offer community activities such as cooking classes, farm-to-table dinners, fall fairs, and the like. In 2012, nearly 2,500 students in Simsbury, Hartford, and throughout the Farmington Valley participated in farm-based, school-year academic programs and summer camps at the Community Farm of Simsbury.

Volunteer and Volunteen Program: Volunteers are the lifeblood of Gifts of Love.  We offer volunteer oportunities to students and adults and have a full-time volunteer coordinator on staff to meet the needs of volunteers.  Gifts of Love works with local school, civic groups, companies, youth groups and various clubs to encourage volunteerism.  Students can volunteer at Gifts of Love to meet their community service requirements. Volunteers staff the front desk, greet and assist clients, stock the food pantry, maintain the clothing shop and hosuewares and linen closet, manage the Holiday Shop, assist with fundraising and other events, and contribute to the overall success of the programs.  Gifts of Love's volunteers truly make a difference in the community while getting valuable experience to include on job resumes and college applications.  More than 450 people volunteer with Gifts of Love each year.

Other Services: Gifts of Love offers our clients valuable information about other support services in the area that can help to facilitate a persons progression to economic self-sufficiency. Gifts of Love is also a designated agency for Operation Fuel, which provides one-time financial support for utility bills. Gifts of Love assisted 5,031 adults last year resulting in a 75% increase over the previous year.

If you are in need of services, please contact us at 860-676-2323 or email Denise Phillips at dphillips@giftsoflovect.org.