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Quaker Lane Cooperative Nursery School Partners with ‘Footwear with Care’

Quaker Lane Cooperative Nursery School students with Ofc. Jimmy Barrett and Abby Moore from Footwear with Care. Courtesy photo

West Hartford’s Quaker Lane Cooperative Nursery School preschoolers partnered with Footwear with Care to support their efforts to help the local homeless.


As snowflakes drifted down from the sky on a Friday morning in February, the young hearts of Quaker Lane Cooperative Nursery School came together with City of Hartford Homeless Outreach Police Officer Jimmy Barrett and Abby Moore from Footwear with Care to support the local unsheltered population.

In the midst of winter’s chill, preschoolers, teachers, Officer Jimmy – as he introduced himself to students – and Moore all gathered to collect baked goods for their homeless neighbors, and to discuss the importance of helping those in need. This event, planned by Quaker Lane Cooperative Nursery School teachers, is meant as a lesson in empathy, igniting the spirits of its preschoolers to give back to their community.

“The cupcakes and cookies are a special treat. Your effort in sharing the cookies and cupcakes to the homeless, who are currently struggling without a mom or a dad, will make the homeless feel special and thankful for the amazing treat,” Officer Jimmy told the students who sat quietly, listening to his message.

Officer Jimmy and Moore were mindful of the ages of the children, and did not portray the bleakness of the homeless situation. They approached the subject in an age-appropriate way in order to educate the youngsters on how to care for those within our community who are especially vulnerable.

“Imagine being out in the street without your mom or your dad, without guidance, support, and structure. That’s how a homeless individual feels in the streets,” Officer Jimmy explained to the wide-eyed students.

Quaker Lane has partnered with Footwear with Care and Officer Jimmy since 2022. According to the foundation’s website, “Footwear with Care has been delivering great walking shoes and boots, medical foot exams, and other support to homeless children and adults in Hartford” since 2016. Abby Moore was “inspired [to found FwC] by Officer Barrett. A veteran and advocate for the homeless, Officer Barrett bought new shoes for a homeless vet whose only footwear were worn-out flip-flops,” the website explains.

Quaker Lane director and teacher Tracy Daly emphasizes the importance of such life lessons that Officer Jimmy and collaboration with Footwear with Care provide, in addition to the typical academic curriculum. Various social and emotional learning activities occur throughout the school year at Quaker Lane, and this special event helps to underscore those meaningful lessons for the preschoolers.

“[Today’s visit] was a continuation of our food drive we held back in November,” said Tracy Daly. “We talked all about how some friends and neighbors don’t have enough money to buy food.” Quaker Lane teachers gently conveyed to the students the purpose of this particular outreach initiative. “We ask students what they do before they come to school, and they all answer that they have breakfast. We then ask them how they would feel if their grownups told them there wasn’t any food available for breakfast, or if their lunch boxes were empty when it was time to eat at school. They closed their eyes to really imagine what it might feel like,” Daly explains.

As the preschoolers eagerly shared their homemade treats, the visit from Officer Jimmy and Moore served as a poignant reminder of the transformative power of empathy and solidarity in building communities of strength and resilience, especially in the coldest of seasons.

“This is our third year collaborating with Footwear with Care. The first year we ran a warm sock collection (we collected over 100 pairs) as well as a baked goods donation. Last year we collected winter gloves for adult men and donated 125 pairs, “ said Daly. She also indicated that the preschool will continue its partnership with Officer Barrett and Footwear with Care in the future.

When asked what he loves about his job as Homeless Outreach Officer for the City of Hartford, Officer Jimmy replied that he values, “protecting the citizens and business owners, [and] especially taking care of the vulnerable, unsheltered population, saving lives, and getting their lives back on track towards success.”

“Community members can help by informing the homeless to contact 211 for services,” Officer Jimmy explained separately to parents, when asked how adults can help. “Most importantly, do not give money to the panhandlers. The panhandlers who ask for money, are using the cash for drugs or alcohol. The real homeless would never ask. Offer to buy them food, coffee, or water. If they say “NO”, keep moving.” This message was purposely not part of the conversation with students. Officer Jimmy and Moore remained careful when communicating with the preschoolers about the serious subject of homelessness.

For more information on Footwear with Care and Abby Moore’s mission through this local organization, visit footwearwithcare.org.

For more information about Quaker Lane Cooperative Nursery School and its community initiatives, please contact Tracy Daly at [email protected].

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