City Connects speaker highlights partnership with Cradles to Crayons

City Connects' Sarah O'Connor is joined by two GPA student volunteers at Cradles to Crayons' Family Volunteer Day
City Connects’ Sarah O’Connor is joined by two GPA student volunteers at Cradles to Crayons’ Family Volunteer Day

City Connects School Site Coordinator Sarah O’Connor was a featured speaker at community partner Cradles to Crayons‘ Family Volunteer Day recently. Sarah is based at the Gardner Pilot Academy (GPA) in Boston’s Allston neighborhood and says she’s a “frequent flier” at Cradles to Crayons (C2C), which provides children living in homeless or low-income situations with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play. Sarah spoke to nearly 200 volunteers at C2C’s “Giving Factory” warehouse about the impact donations have on students.

“Cradles to Crayons is an essential partner for the Gardner Pilot Academy,” Sarah said. “Cradles helps to meet the basic needs of many of our students and provides them with the items that they need to be successful in school. We are so grateful for their ongoing support.”

This year, all GPA students received new backpacks full of school supplies at the beginning of the year and the soccer team was outfitted with cleats before taking the field this season. It’s a two-way partnership–GPA hosts donation drives at the school for C2C and brings students to volunteer at the Giving Factory.

“Sarah has been an all-star and really taken this partnership to the next level. We are so thrilled to have her hands-on support and knowing that she puts so much time and effort into each child’s needs is reassuring to us. We feel  privileged to have her as the point person for so many children in our community,” said Dave Cotugno, Family Philanthropy Associate at C2C. “C2C is thrilled to have such a strong partnership with City Connects and provide them with tools to help children thrive inside and outside of school.”

C2C will be honoring the Gardner at the upcoming “Un-Gala” event on December 7, which will allow every GPA student in grades K-5 to receive new pajamas and a book to take home for winter break.

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Cradles to Crayons Donates Leap Pads to City Connects Schools

C2C Volunteer Day
The City Connects team at Cradles 2 Crayons

City Connects believes that all children can learn and thrive in school if their non-school needs are addressed. A critical partner in meeting these needs is Cradles to Crayons, a powerhouse Boston nonprofit that provides, free of charge, disadvantaged children with the essential items that all kids need to flourish. Cradles to Crayons has supported Boston’s children by providing vital items like backpacks filled with supplies at the start of school and hats and coats during the winter.

On June 17, as part of a year-end day of service, City Connects School Site Coordinators and Program Managers spent the day at Cradles to Crayons’ “Giving Factory,” a warehouse in Brighton, where they inspected, sorted, and packaged clothing donations for children. Emily York, City Connects Program Manager, said:

“Cradles to Crayons has been an important partner for City Connects for several years, thanks in part to the hard work of several of our School Site Coordinators, most notably Amy Cluff, Brendan Adams, and Elizabeth Centeio. With their move to the new Giving Factory space in Brighton, our partnership has been strengthened even more.  Since Cradles to Crayons is such an important partner for us, we were excited about the opportunity to spend some time volunteering. We were divided into teams to create bags of clothing items for children of certain ages and genders; it was so much fun!  The staff there are friendly and energetic and we could not have asked for a better day.”

Following the volunteer day, Kylee North, Cradles to Crayons’ Manager of Distribution Partnerships, contacted us to let us know about availability of a special donation: 400 Leap Pad learning tablets. Our Program Managers were thrilled and thought the donation would be perfectly suited for students at three City Connects elementary schools in Boston that were closing–the Farragut, Emerson, and Agassiz. In addition to those schools, there were enough Leap Pads to share with six more City Connects schools: Edison, Winship, Jackson Mann, Dever McCormack, Holland, and Mason. Said Kylee:

“Cradles to Crayons is dedicated to serving kids in need. Our vision that one day, every child in need will have the essentials to feel safe, warm, ready to learn, and valued, drives us to partner with different agencies across the state that share in that vision. City Connects is no exception. We know that when we provide children’s items to City Connects, those items go directly to the kids who need them the most in the Boston Public Schools. It’s collaborative partnerships like these that help Cradles to Crayons deepen our impact and further our reach to serve more children in need.”

Emily York says that with Kylee’s help, a more streamlined process has been created allowing School Site Coordinators at every City Connects school to place orders more easily. They can provide families with the items they need with more accuracy and quicker than ever before.

Thank you, Cradles to Crayons, for all the great work you do on behalf of Boston’s children!

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