It was a sight to see.
Hundreds of boxes stuffed with all the ingredients for a Thanksgiving feast were lined up wall-to-wall across the floor of Fellowship Church in Middletown and across every seat in the sanctuary. Lara SantaMaria from Fellowship Church directed volunteers, who scurried around to fill each box with stuffing, onions, and potatoes, adding green beans, corn and cranberry sauce. Outside, a refrigerator truck was packed with more than 600 turkeys and 600 pounds of butter. As we ran low on apples, Ron Krom from St. Vincent de Paul pulled up with a truckload.
By day’s end, volunteers had packed Thanksgiving baskets for more than 600 families in Middletown, the culmination of several months of work by many dedicated people and organizations. Originally, the group was planning to assemble 535 baskets, but demand was high this year, and we were fortunate we had the resources to fulfill the waiting list.
We are proud to be a partner in coordinating this effort along with City of Middletown, Community Renewal Team, Cross Street AME Zion Church, DianneAnnelli.com, Fellowship Church, Heritage Commons, Liberty Bank Foundation, Middlesex United Way, Middletown Interfaith Community, Middletown Kiwanis Club, Middletown Police Department, Middletown Public Schools, Middletown Rotary Club, St. John Roman Catholic Church, St. Luke’s Eldercare Services, St. Vincent De Paul Middletown/Amazing Grace Food Pantry, The Salvation Army, Wadsworth Glen Health Care Center, and Wesleyan University.
Many, many generous people and organizations also donated to this effort: A.R. Mazzotta Employment Specialists, ABC Women’s Center, Aetna, Apple Rehab, Arcadis, Boston Red Sox, Congelosi Family, Congregation Adath Israel, Connecticut Food Bank, Connecticut Valley Hospital, Five Guys, Jackson Chevrolet, Jukonski Truck Sales, Liberty Bank, Malloves Jewelers, Mercy High School, Middlesex Hospital, Middletown Surgical Group, Pediatric Dentistry, Pratt & Whitney, Price Chopper, Rick Miles Produce Service, Inc., Scott’s Orchard and Nursery, St. John Roman Catholic Church, Stop & Shop, Suburban Stationers, The Renegade Pigs Motorcycle Club, Paul Tungatt, Water’s Edge Center for Health & Rehabilitation, and Xavier High School.
Hundreds of shoppers in our community also contributed to our two Fill-A-Bus events at Price Chopper and Stop & Shop. If you were one of them, thank you. Between the two Saturdays, you donated more than 2,400 food items! Special thanks to the Middlesex United Way Young Leaders Society for coordinating the Fill-A-Bus events and the Whalers Youth Hockey Association for volunteering.
Special thanks to: Fellowship Church, for serving as the staging area and providing volunteers and to Lara SantaMaria who directed the operation; The Middletown Rotary Club, for donating $4,500 and delivering 100 baskets to those who are home-bound; Rick Miles Produce Service, Inc., for donating 2,700 pounds of potatoes, and Five Guys for facilitating the connection; Scott’s Orchard and Nursery, for 800 pounds of apples; Middletown Public Schools faculty, staff, and administrators, for raising more than $2,600; and Liberty Bank Foundation and our staff here at Middlesex United Way for providing the leadership that brought this coalition together. The definition of a successful collaborative is that it takes on a life of its own—becomes more than the sum of the parts. That truly has taken place with the Middletown Community Thanksgiving Project. It’s a great demonstration of how a community can come together and address an important need. We can’t thank you all enough.
If you enjoyed one of the Thanksgiving baskets, please know how much your community cares about you. Literally hundreds of people in this city had their hands in this project in one way or another, and whether it was volunteering, donating food, donating money, or any other gift, it was given by people who care about their neighbors.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.