Empty store in Glastonbury transformed into a holiday shopping experience for families in foster care

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GLASTONBURY, Conn. (WTNH) – Glastonbury has a new toy store, but it won’t be around after this week. That might sound like a short run for a business, but it’s serving a special purpose for children in foster care.

Christmas can conjure up different feelings for the more than 3,000 children in state care. That’s where toys and Santa come in all thanks to the help of volunteers.

“Just seeing them say, ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘thank you, my kids are going to love it,’ it makes me smile ear to ear,” said Reilly Bard.

Glastonbury’s Somerset Square is where an empty store was transformed into a holiday shopping experience for hundreds of families in foster care.

“We decided to do a pilot program and open this up to families that are in a 30 minute are to the shops, and we reached out to the social workers in those areas, and we asked them to identify some families that would be willing to come down and choose presents for their kids that we know they would like,” said Jacqueline Ford, DCF Community Outreach Liaison.

Southington 8th grader Reilly Bard helped collect toys for the occasion.

“I have some family members that were in foster care or adoption, so it hit close to home. I was like, what’s the best thing I can do, some unfortunate kids don’t get as much,” Bard said.

In years past, DCF would bring the toys to children where they live. This is the first year families can pick what they want.

“We’ve all been through a lot, but particularly our foster families and kids, and this is an opportunity for them to come and choose a holiday gift. It’s hands-on,” said Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz.

This may look like a regular shop from the outside, but to the families walking away with goodies for Christmas day, it’s one less thing they have to worry about.

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