Pawcatuck woman, young boy collect items to help give kids in foster care, homeless teens a fresh start

New London

PAWCATUCK, Conn. (WTNH)– A Pawcatuck woman who made it her mission to make sure local kids in foster care didn’t have to carry their belongings in a trash bag is now looking to help more people in the community.

Shannon DePerry gets a lot of visitors to her Pawcatuck home. Friday it’s Denise Corcoran from Noank Community Support Services, which has a home for homeless teens.

“Some of them aged out of the foster care system,” explained Corcoran. “Some of them have addiction problems. Some of them just have nowhere to go.”

Today though she is picking up items for a young mother who is struggling.

“The joy that lights up on their faces is just absolutely amazing,” said Corcoran.

News 8 first introduced viewers to DePerry last February when she started Operation Fresh Start.

“I had seen something about kids in foster care carrying their stuff in trash bags and it just.. it stayed in my head,” said DePerry.

She collected and donated 600 suitcases and 300 toiletry bags to local agencies. She doesn’t need suitcases anymore but has gotten cloth bags made by a News 8 viewer who saw that story.

“She started making these beautiful bags to put the toiletries in,” said DePerry, as she held one of the cinch style bags made in different colors and patterns.

Those toiletries and so much more are now going to more people in need of help getting their fresh start.

“At the end of your day, if you do something kind don’t you feel better? Don’t you sleep better?” asked DePerry.

A lot has happened in the past year. Not only does she provide items to young adults and even young parents now but people are reaching out to her for help and also to offer help.

Sixth grader Griffin Gulan chose Operation Fresh Start for his community service project at St. Michael’s school in Pawcatuck. He made a video hoping to drum up support.

“We asked for in the video toiletry items, wipes, and diapers,” said Gulan.

“Can I count on your help?” he said in the video. “Please visit my mom for the drop off address.”

“I am so incredibly proud of this kid,” said DePerry.

She asks only that those who are helped pay it forward when they can and write a thank you note so those who donate know the items go directly to people. She remembers one message in particular from a sixteen year old girl.

“She wrote this beautiful card and she said thank you for giving without judgement,” said DePerry.

That is now going to be her mantra for this mission. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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