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New London Rotary donates 500 student activity bags, supports Lyman Allyn’s online arts education

New London — When city students received their school-distributed lunches this past week, there was some extra nourishment with the delivery, thanks to the Rotary Club of New London, which has donated 500 activity bags containing school supplies requested by city educators.

Schools Superintendent Cynthia Ritchie said the supplies will help the homebound students as part of a broader instructional program.

“We are truly grateful for these donations and I know our students and families will be, too,” she said. “New London Rotary is always there to support our students and families and this crisis proved no differently.”

When the schools were closed due to COVID-19 concerns, club members Val West, Rick Gipstein, Catherine Foley and Bruce MacDonald quickly reached out to ask what the Rotary could do. They began buying the requested items to put in the bags and launched a fundraising campaign to supplement club funds to pay for the initiative.

“This was a typical project,” club President Reid Burdick said. “A few Rotarians got together with a good idea and the club made it happen.”

The Rotary hosts Camp Rotary, a summer program that features academic enrichment and recreational activities, a student of the month and other programs. The club also has been involved in projects to improve literacy and education in general. One of them, a free reading program, can be accessed by visiting the club’s website,

The activity bags also included a flyer from the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, a New London institution, and a glue stick for use in its art projects for young people. Sophie Gipstein, an education associate at the museum, said the facility may be closed at the moment, but it remains committed to serving the community.

“During this time of uncertainty, we wanted to bring a little bit of fun to you by posting some of our most popular projects to try out at home,” she said. “We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.”

The project ideas can be found on Lyman Allyn’s website,, or by visiting its Instagram or Facebook profiles.


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