Several eighth-graders from Saxe Middle School collected toiletries, cleaning supplies and pantry items for Norwalk families in need.

The New Canaan students learned about Breakthrough Options for Families Inc. after reading an online article a few days before Thanksgiving. They needed volunteer hours for their confirmation class at St. Aloysius Parish and thought that helping the organization would be a good idea.

They collected items from families and filled the back of a Honda Pilot with soaps, mops, clothing and food. They brought the items to Akisha Cassermere, the founder of Breakthrough Options for Families.

The students found out about a holiday party planned for Dec. 21 that was organized by Cassermere, so they gathered a car full of desserts.

Cassermere, who previously worked as a case worker at Malta House in Norwalk, formed Breakthrough Options for Families to reach out to single-parent families in Norwalk that need help to make ends meet. As a single mom herself, with a special-needs son, Cassermere understands what it means to need help.

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"It was so rewarding to see the smiles on the kid's faces, when they saw the decorated cookies and cupcakes," said Josh Kloud, one of the New Canaan volunteers.