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Gifts of Love: Community rallies to help neighbors in need

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

Donors support ambitious fundraising effort

Generous donors have helped Gifts of Love reach and surpass an ambitious fundraising campaign goal. The social service agency had set a goal of raising $100,000 to support its expanding client services, but the nonprofit raised $140,000 to support its programs and services throughout 2021.

Donations came in from major corporations, individuals and even children. An 11-year-old Simsbury resident, Nicholas Savino, raised $5000 by forgoing Christmas presents and asking family and friends to donate the money to Gifts of Love.

“We are bowled over by the generosity of people, especially during these uncertain times,” says executive director Ryan Pettengill. “Our donors responded enthusiastically to our requests to serve more people and to expand the services we want to provide. One of the most surprising things is the number of $1000 donations that came in.”

The drive was the most ambitious holiday campaign ever for Gifts of Love. It started right before Thanksgiving and ended on New Year’s Eve, and included the nonprofit's first text-to-give campaign. The fundraising campaign was also supported by e-blasts and traditional direct mail.

Due to the pandemic, the Avon-based nonprofit has been meeting the needs of an expanded client base, the largest in its 30-year history. In addition, the nonprofit is planning to donate more food and clothing in 2021, to widen the variety of household goods provided, to expand the capacity of the Gifts of Love Farm, and to increase the size and operating hours of its Hartford food pantry.

"The need is great, but as a community we are greater" — Gifts of Love director Ryan Pettengill

“We know our goals are ambitious, but the need is expanding and we feel an obligation to respond to it,” says Pettengill. “We thank everyone who supported us through this fundraiser and everyone who gives generously throughout the year. The need is great, but as a community we are greater.”

Funds and donations are needed to support the year-round work of Gifts of Love to provide food, clothing and household goods for those struggling to make ends meet. The social service agency helps clients across the Farmington Valley and Greater Hartford. To contribute or to learn more about the nonprofit's work, go to

More Intel on Gifts of Love

Gifts of Love responds to the needs of individuals and families who have been impacted by financial crises. During COVID-19, the nonprofit continues to accept and provide food, clothing and household goods as well as self-sufficiency consultation from its offices in Avon and Hartford.

Gifts of Love provides a sense of hope to those in search of a better future. For over three decades, the organization has provided short-term programs and education that help working families attain financial independence.

The Gifts of Love Farm is a certified-organic educational farm that provides clients with fresh produce and serves the community with ongoing educational programs, incubator farming, and internships programs and organic produce.

For more information, visit

— Special to Today Magazine

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