Written by Dwight Bachman
Willimantic, Conn: --Donald Williams, President Pro Tempor of the Connecticut State Senate; Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill; State Rep. Susan Johnson (D-Windham) and Windham Mayor Ernest Eldridge will be on hand when Eastern Connecticut State University hosts Windham's Colectivo Mestizal's celebration of Three Kings Day from 1 -- 4 p.m. on Jan. 6 in the University's Sport Center.
Colectivo Mestizal, in collaboration with the Town of Windham and the town's Department of Recreation and Department of Human Services, is again collecting toys for children ages 1-8 years old. The drop off point for toys is the Windham Department of Human Services in the Town Hall, located at 979 Main Street in Willimantic. The toys will be distributed at the Three Kings Day celebration. Families interested in participating in the Three Kings Day celebration need to register their children at toy recipients at the department by Dec. 16.
The Three Kings Day toy giveaway project is in its ninth year with Colectivo Mestizal. The Puerto Rican Organization Program started the toy project in Windham. Toy collection has decreased during this year's campaign. According to Mary DeMarco, director of Windham's Department of Human Services, only 150 toys had been collected as of Dec.15. "The depressed economy is affecting collection efforts," said event organizer Alicia Rivera. "We need another 500 toys for all the children who will show up at Eastern on Jan. 6."
The Feast of the Three Kings, also known as the Epiphany, takes place every year on Jan. 6. This day is very important in Latin American folklore, especially for children, as on this eve, children receive their gifts. On the feast of the Epiphany, the Three Kings visited the newly-born Christ child in Bethlehem, bearing him gifts. This tradition is repeated and reflected in present day with the belief that on this eve, the Three Kings will visit every good child to deliver them gifts.
Colectivo Mestizal is an art organization that organizes art exhibits and, in collaboration with the Curbstone Foundation, organizes the Willimantic Poetry in the Park Series. Last year, the organization attained 501c3 status with the IRS and all donations are tax deductible.
For more information on registration, the toy drive and the event, contact Mary De Marco at (860) 465-3066. For information on how you can help or donate toys, contact Alicia Rivera at (860) 423-3215 or Juan Perez (860) 803-7543. Persons interested in making a financial donation that will purchase a toy for a child cansend check donations to Collectivo Mestizal, P.O. Box 759, Willimantic, CT 06226.