Guilford gave back in a big way this year for Thanksgiving through several local programs and collections for those in need. Through the generous donations of Guilord Residents, St. George's Turkey collection gathered over 1,000 Turkeys to distribute to families in need through their "Thanksgiving Sharing" program. Cindy Wallance, owner of Cilantro on the Guilford Green, spoke about the success of the collection.
"People really came through this year," said Wallace. "It just goes to show what a loving, generous, and thoughtful community we have here in Guilford." The 'Sharing' program Wallace coordinates consists of both a Turkey Drive and a Food Drive, both of which were huge successes.
The food collected by St. George's will be delivered to several agencies that the parish works with. Columbus House, located in New Haven is one of the recipients this year.
Guilford Food Bank also did a collection of turkey's and other goods at the VFW. "This drive is coordinated by Guilford Social Services," said Tammy DeFrancesco, Guilford Social Services Director. "It is a collaboration of efforts with the Guilford Food bank and the VFW with assistance from the Guilford Rotary and the staff of the Guilford Park and Rec and Seniors programs. Food drives are held by the Guilford schools, churches and civic groups to assist in the filling of the baskets. The baskets are designated for Guilford Residents in Crisis."
After Turkey's were collected, the boxes of donations were assembled yesterday afternoon by volunteers at the VFW so they were ready for distribution. Guilford Patch stopped by and found Larry Santamaria hard at work.
"This is my 28th year of doing this, and this year has been a great success," said Santamaria. "Last year we were a bit low on donations and this year we are overflowing with goods. We're also pretty much completely set on volunteers that we need for the distribution and for today's work, as you can see. Residents are willing to give in many ways."
Wallace commented that this year's overall success may have had something to do with Hurricane Sandy. "I think that the Hurricane had a big impact; it was a wake up call for folks," said Wallace. "People realized there is a real need."
Come Thanksgiving day, Wallace's work may be winding down (a little), but Santamaria will have a full day ahead of him. "As part of my involvement with Interfaith Ministries, I'll be here at the VFW cooking all day," said Santamaria. That's because he is one of the people responsible for the 40-50 hot meals that will be provided that day by the VFW.
Tammy DeFrancesco, Guilford Social Services Director agreed that this year was a big success. "Folks have been generous," DeFrancesco said. "We're very lucky."
Father Smith of St. George's Parish added that folks may also like the personal touch of giving a Thanksgiving meal to a family in need. "People like to give," said Father Smith. "And I think that folks would give money, but giving a Turkey dinner on Thanksgiving feels special."
Wallace adds that the generosity of Guilford residents knows no bounds. "The donations just kept coming," said Wallace. "If we asked for more cranberry sauce, more would come the next day. Residents who already contributed Turkeys came back and brought more. It's a true testament to our committment as a town to give back to those in need."