The holiday season is once again upon us here along the shoreline.
Streets throughout Branford are already twinkling in the early evening hours, as neighbors put up their Christmas and Hanukkah decorations.
And many of us are working our way through this year's holiday gift list, humming along with the festive music we now hear on the local radio waves as we wrap presents after an afternoon or evening of shopping.
Making a Difference
But this year, not every Branford child will have a present to open on Christmas morning.
And that brings to mind an important reminder: this is also the season of giving — when you can make a huge difference in a young local child's life by simply donating a toy.
Enter the Branford Christmas Caddy.
The annual toy drive benefits the Branford Counseling Center.
The Christmas Caddy program was founded three years ago by Chandler Fowler.
At that time Fowler was a senior at Branford High School.
And she decided to create the drive as a meaningful way to honor the memory of her grandfather Bruce Pantani.
A Family Tradition
And it was her grandfather and her grandmother Joanne Pantani who started the Adopt a Family program at the center years ago to ensure that every family in need of holiday help was matched with a family interested in donating.
“My entire family has always been into it,” Fowler told Branford Patch at the time. “He came from very little and his work ethic was unbelievable. He understood what it was like to be down or not have any money and wanted to help them.”
A Spirit of Giving
Pantani, the founder B. Pantani & Sons Builders of Branford, passed away in 2008.
Prior to that, for more than four decades Bruce and and his wife had donated toys, gifts and food through the Branford Counseling Center to help countless children throughout town.
And so, Fowler and her family's decision to use their grandfather’s beloved “Caddy” to deliver the toys as part of the drive is an homage to Pantani — and his spirit of giving.
This Weekend's Collections
Ready to roll for this holiday season, the caddy will be parked and accepting donations at two separate locations this weekend:
- Saturday, Dec. 7 - Branford Walmart from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec. 8 - Branford Town Green from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In addition to toys, cash and gift card donations are also welcome.