[Editor's Note: The following is an open letter to Greater New Milford residents and businesses requesting help with the United Way's Back to School program.]

Remember when you were a child?

Remember how important it was to get new clothes at the start of school?

You can help to ensure local children who are in need this year can have positive memories and get a strong start to a new school year.

Last year, we provided backpacks to 329 children in need of help, some seeking assistance for the first time. And we saw increases in towns that historically had few, if any, in need.

Thanks to the generosity of our community, we provided clothing, personal care items and school supplies to children of those families, so they could start the school year like everyone else.

United Way of Western Connecticut's 23rd annual Back to School Clothing Drive will again provide this important assistance for families living in New Milford, Kent, Washington, Roxbury, Sherman, Bridgewater and Warren.

Children's sizes and color preferences will be provided so that you may purchase and donate what is appropriate for each child.

A specific list of items for backpacks and personal care will also be provided.

We would like each child to receive a backpack, three pairs of socks, personal care items, two outfits of fall/winter clothing, a pair of sneakers, school supplies, three sets of undergarments and a winter jacket.

Sponsors and shoppers are also needed.

To sponsor a child, individually or as a group, approximate $250 is needed per child.

You will receive a child's name to shop for during the summer months. Monetary donations are also accepted.

If you're not in a position to sponsor a child, you can still shop for one, and we will reimburse you.

Please open your heart to help a youngster "Dress for Success" this coming school year.

For further information or to sponsor a child, please contact Kathy Thomas, United Way of Western Connecticut, P.O. Box 29, 21 Main Street, New Milford, CT 06776, call 860-354-8800 or email kathy.thomas@uwwesternct.org.

Special thanks to Kimberly-Clark for generously donating space at its conference center for this year's back to school drive.

Kathy Thomas

United Way

of Western

Connecticut