Wilton teacher partners with local nonprofit to donate ‘cuddle bears’

Photo of J.D. Freda

WILTON — Miller-Driscoll kindergarten teacher Jaclyn Brunetto lined up a brigade of stuffed teddy bears on her steps at home in August. The collection of bears and accompanying children’ books were donated and delivered to the Fairfield Police Department to be distributed to local children in the area.

Now, she is once again collecting teddy bears and books to be donated. This time, though, she has partnered with Wilton’s Circle of Care, a nonprofit that provides support to families dealing with childhood cancer.

The eight-year Wilton elementary school teacher thought the time to be very appropriate.

“September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, so I thought the timing made sense,” Brunetto said Monday. “In August, I reached out to (Circle of Care).”

In addition to being a teacher, Brunetto started working as a consultant last year with Usborne Books, a British publisher of children’s books.

The “Cuddle Bear” book that Brunetto is donating is published by Usborne Books. She said she got inspiration to become more charitable last year after becoming a consultant with the publishing company.

A portion of the proceeds of “Cuddle Bear” sales that Usborne sees goes to the Scottt Carter Foundation, a nonprofit that has raised more than $3.5 million for pediatric cancer research. Brunetto said she saw an opportunity to make a difference on a local level and wanted to capitalize.

As she finished her “Cuddle Bear” fundraiser with the Fairfield police over the summer, she looked for another chance to partner with a group and donate books and toys.

That opportunity came after scouring a few Facebook groups at the tail end of summer.

“Someone made a post and mentioned a few (charitable) organizations,” Brunetto said. “Circle of Care was one of the organizations on there.”

After connecting with the nonprofit, Brunetto understood the idea was to put together “bags of love” for families and their children. Once again, Brunetto thought that the “Cuddle Bear” books and plush toys might be able to provide some comfort to these families. Circle of Care did not respond to a request for comment about the effort.

Brunetto said Monday that, to date, she has been able to raise money to donate 16 sets of books and plush toys to the Wilton nonprofit. She has been advertising mostly through Facebook, but admittedly has gotten off to a “slow start” in the month of September.

After speaking with Circle of Care, she determined the nonprofit helps roughly 70 local families with children in the age range that she thinks is best suited to receive the book and toy. She has made that number her goal.

“The benchmark is 70,” Brunetto said. “I would love to start by doubling and tripling the 16 bags we’ve sold.”

She hopes by ramping up her social media posts, she will be able to reach her goal and see clear jumps in donations. But Brunetto has another goal she is looking to achieve in her recent uptick in charitable efforts.

“It was important for me to be able to bring my children to the police department for that donation, and to show them,” Brunetto said, noting that she wants her daughter, 2, and son, 1, to be able to understand and appreciate the notion of helping others as they grow. “I really want them to see this.”

As a mother and educator of young children, Brunetto wants to continue to donate her time to helping families with young children. Although she just started this past year, the teacher said she is looking to make this an increasingly larger part of her life in the future.

Donate to Circle of Care at