Southington resident Jennifer Jacovino Baptiste knows what it’s like when money is tight. It’s interesting how those with that experience can be the most giving, and in Baptiste’s case it also involves creativity.
She was looking for a way to, as she put it, “do something fun that doesn’t cost a lot of money,” and give back to the community. So, starting in 2018 she’s been using the experience from her business Ace of Space, which is about organizing and decluttering, to build a holiday display out of basic stuff.
This year’s display features a gathering of eight snowmen around a plastic camp fire. The snowmen are built from auto and bicycle tires, stacked on top of one another and painted snowman white. They get outfitted with old hats, gloves and scarves. As the Record-Journal’s Devin Leith-Yessian noted in a recent story, Baptiste’s son Jaiden helps by keeping an eye out for tires.
Like many during the pandemic, Baptiste has encountered challenging financial times, which made her think of others. So she’s added a donation bin to her display. Last year, the donation bin gathered about 800 pounds of non-perishable items that she donated to the Southington food pantry, Bread for Life.
Baptiste says she knows what it’s like, and that being in a position to accept help is “something that shouldn’t be shameful.”
The type of neighborhood effort displayed by Baptiste can be extremely effective. Southington Community Services Director Janet Mellon told the Record-Journal that donating through someone they know encourages people to seek more variety when it comes to food to donate. It also makes residents more aware of the need in their own neighborhood.
Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it’s a good time to focus on donating to help make a difference in the upcoming weeks. The efforts of those like Baptiste show how it can be done, and how important it can be.