Inspirica Inc.’s annual Holiday Gift Collection began as a program of Bread and Roses, providing holiday gifts to children living with HIV/AIDS. Now, the organization, based in Stamford with services at 10 locations (including one in Georgetown) reports it has “evolved into one of the region’s largest gift collection and distribution initiatives serving more than 2,500 children.”

In its 26th year, the Holiday Gift Collection provides gifts to more than 2,500 children identified through more than 35 non-profit agencies throughout Fairfield County. These groups work with extreme low-income children or those living with HIV/AIDS from New Haven to Danbury and from Bridgeport to Greenwich, according to Mary Aly, director of communications and events for Inspirica.

“Hundreds of people from all walks of life, gather together to support this program” said Inspirica’s Holiday Gift Collection Manager Lauren Dubinsky. “Every child on the list, all 2,854 children, receive something special chosen just for them.”  The children’s’ individual “gift wishes” are filled by hundreds of sponsors who shop for the children. Volunteers then gather in a “toy workshop” on site at Inspirica where gifts are wrapped, sorted and readied to return to the sponsoring agency who will distribute the gifts. Sponsorships by businesses, families and individuals help underwrite the Holiday Gift Collection.

Community members are invited to sponsor a child (by visiting inspiricact.org) or volunteer for the wrapping party Saturday, Dec. 12.

“The gifts I received from the Holiday Gift Collection as a child made for some of the most memorable times for my family,” said Carlos Chaparro, a former Inspirica client and current Inspirica Young Professionals Committee member. “HGC is much more than just a physical present; it is the gift of a lifelong memory.”

Inspirica’s CEO Jason Shaplen said, “We want these children to feel special — that they were thought of and to have a sense of peace this holiday season. Sometimes for families living in poverty, holiday gift giving is a low priority especially if you are living in survival mode.”

A list of most-needed gifts can be found at www.InspiricaCT.org. For more information, visit the website, email holidayhelper@inspiricact.org or call 203-388-0190.

Inspirica is one of the largest providers of services to the homeless in the state of Connecticut and the largest in lower Fairfield County.