Santa Comes To Bridgeport — And Westport

Last year, “06880” posted an urgent plea for help. The Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport was running a toy drive for their elementary school students. But they were falling far short.

Their kids were in desperate situations: the highest poverty brackets, shelters, you name it. 100% are fed breakfast and lunch at school. Their families have no money for basic necessities — let alone holiday gifts.

Westporters came through — big time.

Some of the presents that poured in to the Cesar Batalla Elementary School last year. (Photos/Jimeale Hede)

This year, alert — and generous — “06880” reader Alexis Donnerstag remembered the drive. She asked how she could contribute again. I hadn’t heard anything from the school. But I sent her a link to their website.

Within a couple of hours, Benji Labrador called. He’s the school security officer. He said the woman who handled the drive last year is gone. He’s in charge, but did not know about the “06880” connection.

Now he does. And so do you.

Anyone can order gifts online — at Amazon, for example — and have them shipped to Benji at the school: 606 Howard Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06606. Click here for a direct link to Amazon’s Cesar Batalla page. You can drop gifts off at Vincent Palumbo Salon (616 Post Road East) — or directly at the school too.

For more information, email, or

Meanwhile, closer to home, there’s a tree lighting — plus hot chocolate, s’mores and sliders — at the Riverside Avenue plaza (between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk) this Sunday (December 3, 4:30 to 7 p.m.) Santa arrives at 5:15 p.m.

The Gault family invites everyone to come. But they hope you’ll bring an unwrapped toy for a child age 10 or under. All gifts will be donated to Al’s Angels.

Who are they? Well — in addition to providing holiday joy for countless kids in the area — they’re the volunteers who light the William Cribari Bridge, just a couple of yards away from the plaza.

A little gift goes a long way.

6 responses to “Santa Comes To Bridgeport — And Westport

  1. It goes much deeper than a long long way. Happy Holidays to all.

  2. Megan Rutstein

    WestportMoms is having a toy drive for Cesar Batalla School on 12/17 between 10-2. We will be filling a moving truck in Levitt Pavillion parking lot. More details to come!

  3. My daughter-in-law, Carolyn Russo, was one of the 2 founders of the non-profit that serves Cesar Bataglia School. I am forwarding this to her. She will be able to provide the details for this year. I just remember that getting all those Amazon boxes was overwhelming… They all needed to be unpacked and the school couldn’t handle it. So maybe this year an off-site location was identified, but I’m here in Naples, FL and haven’t been brought up to speed.

  4. Nathalie Fonteyne

    The Westport Fairfield parent Facebook group posted last night with an Amazon wishlist link.

  5. The Cesar Batalla Toy drive is still happening – you can purchase the toys and ship directly from amazon from this wish list

  6. Hi Dan-
    Thank you for sharing about this Toy Drive. It really struck a cord for my 10 yr old daughter and I.

    I have been in contact with Benji at the Cesar Batalla School….and to date he only has 75 Toys and are in need of 519 for children Pre K Through 3rd grade. He also mentioned that the kids are in need of coats and hats (new or used) . Would it be possible for you to let fellow Westporters know that I will be making a run to the School once a week? Friends can drop off donations to my clothing store, Lucy’s – 23 Jesup Road, Westport. ( across from westport public Library/ next to green and tonic) Mon-Sat 10am to 6pm, Sunday 12-5pm. If Parking is an issue- they can just pull into the driveway next to the store and drop off as well.

    I can also be reached at if alternative arrangements need to be made for donations. I will make it Happen! Lets show Bridgeport- Westport really cares!

    Sincerely –
    Lisa Savone