By: Mark Azarra at the Waterbury Republican on 8/24/02 (click here for the actual article)

Love by the basketful is being produced at Waterbury Church of Christ.

Women from the church meet Monday nights to sort and prepare the donations for four baskets that are destined for young, poor mothers of newborns, and Thursday morning the women gather again at the church, at 3211 North Main St., to prepare those baskets.

These aren’t some nice little Easter-basket-sized donations. We’re talking four laundry baskets per week filled with new and good-quality used clothing – five to six outfits for each season, so the baby has enough clothes to last a year.

But there’s room in those baskets for even more, said Tina Sanzone, the church member who’s in charge of the project. The baskets also include toiletries, diapers, homemade or store-bought crib blankets and booties, baby bottles, small toys, baby books, stuffed animals, lotion, powder, wipes, snowsuits and bibs.

The baskets are distributed weekly to Waterbury Hospital and the city Health Department’s Healthy Choices for Women and Children program by Deacon Dale Waterbury, who’s in charge of the church’s benevolence projects.

“Our moms, the ones we work with, are very, very poor and they love these things. They’ve been wonderful,” said Elizabeth Davis, director of the Healthy Choices program.

“We get cards from these young women who get these baskets. They’re very heartfelt, (saying) how much they really appreciate the baskets,” Sanzone said.

The only problem is that the demand is overwhelming the volunteers. Some weeks there aren’t enough donations to fill the four baskets they’re committed to making.

“They keep running out of baby clothing so they have to keep scrounging around,” Davis said.

“A lot of times we have to go out and buy stuff,” Sanzone said. “We’re going to have to go out and buy stuff this weekend to make our quota next week.”

The women shop at consignment shops, thrift stores, tag sales, and department-store sales. “I’ve gone out and spent $200 or $300 of my own money. The church will reimburse some of that but they can’t do it for all of it,” she said.

“We just go out and get what we need to keep this going. It’s become really personal to us that we’re putting our hearts into these baskets,” she added.

Sanzone said other churches have donated items for the baskets in the past but she’d love to see more, from other churches or individuals. Those interested in donating can call Sanzone at (203) 879-7789. Sanzone said large toys or furniture can’t be accepted.

Sanzone said the program was started about three years ago by her mother-in-law Kathleen and sister-in-law Erin. It’s an outreach to “women who have children that don’t have anything for their babies. We’re trying to show them that there are caring hands out there,” she said. “If we can get outside help, that’s great. There is such a big need in the community.”