For the second year in a row Trumbull High School freshman Cassandra Anelante spent her holiday season collecting toys for local children who might otherwise go without gifts.

Cassandra, 14, collected more than 250 new, unwrapped toys from friends, family and classmates to donate to present to children who are clients of The Center for Family Justice, the domestic violence and sexual assault crisis and prevention program which serves residents of Trumbull, Bridgeport, Fairfield, Easton, Monroe and Stratford.

Cassandra presented the toys, which she solicited through social media channels and word-of-mouth, to The Center’s staff a few days before Christmas. The toys were then given to children living in The Center’s safe and transitional housing programs, which provide temporary shelter to families impacted by domestic violence.

“These kids tend to be forgotten, especially around the holidays,” said Cassandra. “The Center is a place that is close to my family’s heart and I really wanted to help.”

Cassandra’s project began in 2014 when she collected about 126 toys for The Center’s youngest clients through an appeal on her mother Cindy Anelante’s Facebook page.

Cassandra’s mother, Cindy Anelante, said her daughter’s 2015 goal was to double her collection and she was proud she succeeded.  Her mother and father, Dan Anelante, helped with large toy delivery to The Center’s administrative offices in Bridgeport, but Cassandra otherwise spearheaded the project on her own.

“We are truly touched by Cassie’s efforts on behalf of our clients,” said Debra A. Greenwood, President/CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “It’s very special that she sets aside time from all of her personal commitments as a busy high school student to think of other children at the holidays. What she’s able to accomplish on her own is quite extraordinary. We couldn’t be more impressed with her efforts and are so grateful and appreciative.”

Cassandra, who is an honor student at Trumbull High, plans to continue her efforts with another drive in 2016.

More information

The Center for Family Justice Inc. (formerly The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County Inc.), brings all domestic, sexual and child abuse services – crisis intervention, police, prosecutors, civil/legal providers, counseling – under one roof, in our headquarters in Bridgeport, CT. Together, we work to break the cycle of violence by helping those in crisis restore their lives. Although our name has changed, we continue with the work we have provided for 12 decades, providing free, confidential, bilingual crisis services in Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull. It is the comprehensive services our partners are providing that are streamlining the road to healing and self-sufficiency.

Within the past year, The Center answered more than 950 calls on a 24-hour crisis hotline; assisted with the civil and criminal court processes for more than 2,500 survivors of domestic violence; responded to more than 500 survivors of sexual assault and their families; provided a safe home for more than 100 women and children fleeing domestic abuse; coordinated the investigations of more than 170 cases of child sexual and severe physical abuse, developing service plans for the young survivors and their families; and provided psycho-educational support to more than 1,200 survivors of domestic violence, planning for their safety and promoting self-sufficiency.

As part of our mission, The Center educates approximately 4,000 members of the community about the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse to prevent future violence and spread the word that about the services we offer at The Center for Family Justice. Annually, we teach more than 2,000 children and teens about building healthy relationships, bullying prevention and dating violence.

For more information, visit www.CenterForFamilyJustice.org.