MONROE, CT — Daisies and Brownies from Fawn Hollow Girl Scout Troop 34010 used markers to decorate bags with snowmen and winter scenes for the 2020 Christmas Care Package Project, to send gifts and cards with well wishes to sick children staying in hospitals over the holidays.
On Wednesday evening, the troop met Michael Murray of Trumbull, founder of the project, near the pavilion at Wolfe Park to present him with the five bags they worked on.
“I think it’s amazing, because these girls are showing the community what youth can do when they get involved, while making a holiday brighter for kids who are ill,” Murray said.
Murray, a bone cancer survivor who had undergone over 25 surgeries in the 1980s before losing his left leg, started the Christmas Care Packages Project last year.
“I was in the hospital at Christmastime,” he recalled. “I know what it’s like to want to be home with your family and friends.”
“These packages help to bring a smile to kids faces and lets them know there are people thinking about them during the holiday season,” Murray said. “Every package, right down to the bag each child receives, is handled with special care.”
Murray said the bags are decorated by children and adults in the community and each contains a hand-made blanket, hand-made holiday cards, books, DVDs, a new unopened toy and a personalized letter from him to the child.
“Last year, we were able to deliver bags to Norwalk, Danbury and Bridgeport hospitals, as well as WEBE-108 Toys for Tots and Channel 8 News Toys for Tots,” Murray said of the 300 packages people prepared.
Christmas comes early
COVID-19 brought stricter guidelines for hospitals this year. Some cannot accept care packages just before Christmas, so Murray said approximately 225 packages will be delivered a month early in November.
Participating hospitals include Sharon, New Milford and Danbury. “Unfortunately, some hospitals had to tell us they cannot accept any donations, but were hoping by next year that they could participate again,” Murray said.
In addition to the hospitals, he said WEBE-108 Toys for Tots, Al’s Angels and Channel 8 News Toys for Tots will receive bags.
Murray is also seeking donations of small bags of chips, small water bottles and face masks for 250 holiday stockings, which will be given to first responders and health care workers. To donate items, email Murray at [email protected].
When Murray first started the Christmas Care Packages project, he said many people in the community were eager to pitch in, whether it be decorating bags, creating homemade cards and blankets and donating other items.
Murray said the generosity in Monroe is overwhelming. In fact, so many people offered to help, Murray had to parcel out five bags for each group to decorate, so there would be enough to go around.
Among those who helped, Jacquey Zuckerman Tynan, of Monroe, made 120 holiday cards, according to Murray.
“Inside all her cards are knock-knock jokes, which the kids love to read in the hospitals,” he said. “Jacquey has made cards for the project since it began. I would like to thank those Monroe families and groups, such as the Girl Scouts — Brownies and Daisies — who have helped make this project a success for the past two years.”
To show his appreciation, Murray gave the Girl Scouts goodie bags on Wednesday. The 17 girls were with their scout leaders, Sopoline Teng and Victoria Maurer.
Maurer said she and Teng always look for projects to show their girls there are others, who are less fortunate than they are.
“This was our first meeting of the year,” Maurer said. “We decided to do the bags. We’re working on pedals for being courageous and strong and this ties in with that. Sometimes kids are sick and, by them doing this, that’s going to bring a smile to children’s faces.”
Those interested in donating new unopened toys for children (babies to young teens), making hand-made blankets and cards, and stones with messages to inspire and lift their spirits can email Murray at [email protected].