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Big Red Box Initiative Makes Food Donations Accessible at Polaris Center

Scanning the radio stations on his way home from work one day, CREC John J. Allison Jr. Polaris Center Facilities Manager John Danco listened intently as he heard about the Big Red Box initiative popping up in communities around the country.

The program crossing America involves ‘big red boxes’ containing food donations. The intent is to encourage anyone in need to take what they need and those who have extra to give what they can.

Since the Polaris Center is fortunate to receive regular donations from Whole Foods, Danco thought the Big Red Box would be ideal to have in an easily accessible area on campus.

Director Timothy Carroll liked the idea of being able to serve the needs of the clients from the Center’s Outpatient Mental Health Clinic, the Polaris Educational Community, as well as those who live in the East Hartford community who walk or drive by regularly.

Upon approval, Danco constructed the box using scrap materials from around campus and his own home. Painted bright red, with a plexiglass door, the box is adhered to the brick exterior of the Polaris Outpatient Mental Health Clinic building.

The Big Red Box has truly been a team effort as students from the Polaris Educational Programs have joined in to assist with the project. Under the supervision of Lorin Charanian, a job coach at the Polaris Career Center, students will monitor usage and stock the box with food and items that are donated by staff members, organizations and from the Polaris Food Service Program.

With a simple sign to Take What You Need and Give What You Can, members of the John J. Allison Jr Polaris Center community work to promote full bellies through kind hearts.

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