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New London - The region's annual boot drive is running behind.
In its 17th year, the Thames Valley Council for Community Action's Santa Anonymous Winter Boot Project has so far collected some 650 pairs of boots, more than 300 shy of its goal of 993.
While Friday was to have been the deadline for donations, the agency will continue to accept boots - and cash contributions - all next week and beyond, Helen Granskog, coordinator of the project, said.
"We'll keep taking them all winter until our goal is met," she said.
Each year, that goal climbs. But this year, the number of donors has shrunk.
The TVCCA began the process in October, asking school officials to provide the first names, ages, genders and boot sizes of students in need. Then it approached corporate donors and individuals willing to help.
"We do surveys every year that show children who have a good, warm pair of boots are so much healthier for it," Granskog said. "And they don't have to face ridicule from their peers because they're wearing sneakers in the snow, so there are emotional and psychological benefits, too."
Connecticut College dropped off 50 pairs of boots this week. Forty-seven pairs arrived from Chelsea Groton Bank. Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, which usually can be counted on to donate 100 pairs, has so far sent about 70, Granskog said.
The New London Rotary, chambers of commerce, the Horgan Law Offices, Yankee Remodeler and Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute also are among the program's perennial participants.
Program organizers prefer that donated boots - newly purchased - be gift-wrapped before they're dropped off. The TVCCA plans to distribute boots the week of Dec. 16, before school winter vacations start.
In New London, city police help deliver the boots.
To donate: Contact the agency to be assigned a gender, age and boot size. Drop off new boots at the TVCCA’s temporary office at 115 Huntington St. Parking is located in the back of the building, off Meridian Street, next to the Holiday Inn.
More info: Helen Granskog at (860) 425-6617 or hgranskog@TVCCA.org.