‘Heart 2 Heart Hugs’ drive seeks winter items


DOVER –– The Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens announced on Thursday morning at William Henry Middle School that it is starting up its sixth year of “Heart 2 Heart Hugs” –– a statewide program to provide coats and blankets to the homeless and foster children of Delaware.

“This started out six years ago as a sleeping bag campaign but as time went on, it became more inclusive and now we collect everything that would be useful to keep the less fortunate warm during the winter,” Wendy Strauss, executive director of GACEC said Thursday.

It’s estimated that more than 1,000 kids enter foster care in Delaware every year and about 5,000 are currently in foster care or homeless.

“Many of these kids, whether they are in foster care or homeless, don’t have the most ordinary and basic things for winter,” John Bates, a foster care program manager said. “Something small like a jacket or a blanket can be a huge blessing for them.”

Last year, at Stubbs Elementary School in Wilmington, approximately 50 students benefited from the drive, taking home winter coats and supplies for themselves and their families.

“We contacted the parents we had listed as homeless and let them know there were resources available at the school for them, and they were able to take advantage of some of the supplies that had been donated,” Ken Livingston of Children and Families First said.

Since the program is for kids, several of the drop off locations are schools. Some participating schools are Middletown High School, Sussex Tech High School and William Henry Middle School.

“This program gives students and the community an opportunity to help those in need,” Toriano Giddens, principal of William Henry said. “As long as we are on this earth and have the ability to help others, we should, to make the community and the world a better place. Every single day there’s someone who needs a hand and we should do our best to help them.”

He encouraged his students to tell their friends and families about Heart 2 Heart Hugs and encourage them to donate.

The winter supply drive runs from now through February collecting items from blankets to mittens at a variety of locations across the state.

Drop-off points are located throughout the state and can be found on the GACEC website at gacec.delaware.gov under the special notices link. If you or someone you know is in need of winter supplies, contact the GACEC offices at 739–4553.

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