NEW MILFORD — A lifelong resident recently launched her latest mission to spread cheer throughout the community.

Jenn Arnau has kicked off “Warm Winter,” a project focused on helping those in need stay warm this winter. Hats, scarves and gloves/mittens for children and adults are sought.

“It makes me feel good to give back to people,” Arnau said of why she is focused on giving back to the community.

Collection boxes are located at several businesses in the community, including Natural Marketplace at 10 Bank St., Beehive Children’s Center at 278 Danbury Road, Reis Learning Center at 65 Bank St., Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 7 South near the high school and Dunkin’ Donuts at the corner of Dodd Road and Route 7, all in New Milford, and The Hunt at 281 Whisconier Road, Brookfield.

Arnau will empty the boxes weekly and place the donations on the trees around the Village Green for those in need.

The project is being done in coordination with New Milford Parks & Recreation and the mayor’s office.

Arnau said she saw winter items tied to the trees on the Green last year and thought she could “go big with it this year.”

“With the mayor’s blessing, we are doing it,” she said.

She hopes to find a Scout troop to help her place the items on the Green and replenish them as needed.

“Warm Winter” is one of several mission projects Arnau has coordinated since the start of the pandemic this past spring.

A self-described volunteer, Arnau said she tries to do a project every few months.

“I’ve always kind of been this way,” she said of her mission-driven heart. “I’ve always volunteered a lot…and thinking of what I can do next.”

“I’m a one-woman show and make my fiancé, Peter, help,” she quipped.

This year’s neighborly deeds began this spring when she posted on social media asking for donations to be made to Camella’s Cupboard, a nonprofit organization that provides all children in town with year-round food access.

“When COVID hit, Jenn was so helpful in getting the word out about Camella’s Cupboard and raising funds for us which was especially helpful as our request for services quadrupled,” organization founder Angie Chastain said, adding more than $2,000 was raised through Arnau’s efforts.

“It was so kind and selfless of her to work on our behalf for the children and families of New Milford,” Chastain said. “Someone like her who works on behalf of others with no self-interest is a rare find. New Milford is fortunate to have individuals like her in our community.”

Arnau has also made more than 300 ear protectors for masks during the pandemic.

Having worked in health care, Arnau began making ear protectors for health care workers. She supplied protectors for the entire New Milford VNA, now called rVNA Health, and GeronNursing in New Milford, and High Watch Recovery in Kent.

In total, her protectors were distributed to 25 different health agencies. She extended her reach out into the community, providing them to teachers, including those at the Education Center at New Milford United Methodist Church, and Stop & Shop employees, among others.

She even sent samples to the Center for Disease Control, a gesture that yielded a thank you note.

“As a nonprofit recovery center with a focus on helping others, we were really grateful when (Jenn) offered to donate the ear protectors,” said Megan Miller of High Watch Recovery. “It was very considerate of her.”

Arnau is active on social media and is also involved in the Buy Nothing page, which connects individuals and allows them to write posts about items they wish for. Others on the page can respond if they can fulfill the wish.

Arnau provides a meal of the week — based on a particular theme — for an individual or family. She will buy all the ingredients for the meal and drop off the items to each week’s recipient.

This summer she coordinated a social media back-to-school supply drive for the Education Center and a backpack drive for Beehive Children’s Center.

Jenn’s “selfless energy and time she has given with delivering food, helping people financially and reaching out to those in need shows what a special person she is and how valuable she is to our community,” said East Coast Carpeting Cleaning owner Doug Skelly, who contributed to the back-to-school drive.

“I am pleased to call her my friend and will continue to help her support those who are in need, especially in the times we live in today,” he said.

Prior to this year’s efforts, Arnau was involved in several other giving projects.

From 2004-14, she served as a leader of a team consisting of 50-plus individuals who walked at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night event.

Arnau’s sister-in-law died of leukemia in 2018. She was one of five loved ones Arnau lost that year.

Her team was the top team for Northwest Connecticut for eight years, she said, noting the most amount her team raised was $18,000 one year.

The New Milford Food Bank has also been a recipient of Arnau’s good deeds. In September 2017, she collected more than 2,000 items at eight different locations.

For more information

about Arnau’s projects, contact her at jennifer6694@hotmail.com.