Funeral directors bring holiday cheer with toy drive

Home for the Holidays

ROCKY HILL, Conn. (WTNH) – You might not expect that among the caskets and urns at the Connecticut Funeral Directors annual convention at the Sheraton Hartford South in Rocky Hill, you’d find a whole bunch of children’s toys.

Fourteen years ago, the association decided to do something more for the community. Funeral Directors already help families going through tough times.

“But we wanted to help them through a cause for families in need that are still here, so we went to Operation ELF,” explained Connecticut Funeral Directors Association Executive Director John Cascio.

ELF stands for Embracing Lonely Families, and it helps the families of deployed servicemen and women in many ways, including making sure their kids have presents to open during the holidays.

“I have three young children myself and this is a really good cause. I couldn’t imagine any child not being able to open up a package on Christmas morning,” said Wethersfield resident Daniel Shlatz.

Fifty-four different funeral homes have been collecting toys all around the state, and now, the group has so many they are donating not just to Operation ELF, but to Connecticut Children’s as well. Those toys go a long way towards making hospital stays less painful for kids.

“The families will get a smile,” said John Cascio. “They’re going through a situation where they are just so excited to see happiness, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

This was the last day of toy collection for the Funeral Directors Association. Operation ELF is still taking donations through next Tuesday.

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