Car after car after car rolled into the Xfinity Theatre parking lot in Hartford today dropping off backpacks filled with crayons, markers, notebooks, pencils, glue sticks, erasers, tissues, hand sanitizers, and dozens of other items students and teachers will need when they go back to school.
The back-to-school supply drive was spearheaded by iHeart radio personality Renee DiNino. “I have a love of education and have many family members who are educators and work in our schools. I know there is a big need for supplies, and I wanted to help them out,” she said.
“Whether in-person or distance learning, our students and teachers need supplies,” said CEA Vice President and Connecticut Education Foundation President Tom Nicholas. “Due to the pandemic, students are no longer able to share supplies, so our classrooms need more of everything, as well as masks, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizers.”
DiNino invited CEA and AFT Connecticut to participate and share the supplies with students and teachers across the state, including 26,000 masks for teachers provided by Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz through a generous donation from the Rossi Family Foundation.
“I can’t think of better recipients than our two unions that represent our wonderful teachers, “ said Bysiewicz. “I wish everyone a great back to school, whatever that looks like.”
“Nothing is more important than education,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, who donated a bag of school supplies. “Nothing is more important than children coming to school, in whatever the setting is and it may begin at home this year, it may be a hybrid model or in schools. Whatever it looks like, teachers are going to be there for their students, fully, and completely. These masks and other supplies are all necessary to go back to school safely.”
Blumenthal thanked and praised Connecticut’s teachers. “I know you will be doing a great job as usual. Connecticut teachers are the best in the nation.”
Jim Koplik, president of Live Nation Connecticut was proud to support the event at the Xfinity Theater.
“This was very special to me. My late wife was a teacher for 35 years and it is an honor to be here to support students and educators across the state.”
AFT Connecticut Secretary/Treasurer David Hayes thanked everyone for the much-needed supplies.
“A week from today, I will be in school in Bristol in a hybrid model and we really appreciate everyone supporting this drive because we go through supplies very quickly and really need them.”
Every person who dropped off items received six masks donated by the Rossi Family Foundation and hand sanitizer donated by Mizzi Cosmetics.
The Connecticut Education Foundation will be distributing the school supplies and masks to teachers who make requests through the foundation. For more information, contact Shannon Waxenberg at Shannonw@cea.org