Volunteers provide Thanksgiving meals for those in need

By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
East Haddam - posted Mon., Nov. 21, 2011
(L-r) Ron Brennan, Roger Stube, Carolyn Perkins, Deb Denette, Stuart Palmer, Christine Watson, Sophie Soja and Ralph Havens filled Thanksgiving dinner boxes at the East Haddam Food Bank last Friday, Nov. 18. Photos by Kevin Hotary.
(L-r) Ron Brennan, Roger Stube, Carolyn Perkins, Deb Denette, Stuart Palmer, Christine Watson, Sophie Soja and Ralph Havens filled Thanksgiving dinner boxes at the East Haddam Food Bank last Friday, Nov. 18. Photos by Kevin Hotary.

The East Haddam Rotary Club, living up to its motto of “Service Above Self,” has left its mark in town in many ways, from providing dictionaries to young students, scholarships for older students, and a winter place to play – the Rotary ice-skating pond – for everybody.  And all of this with only 13 members.

“But this is one of the bigger things we do,” said Rotary Secretary Deb Denette, as she and a handful of volunteers spent last Friday morning at the East Haddam Food Bank loading box after box – 125 in all – with nearly all of the makings for a Thanksgiving feast, just as they have quietly done for “at least 10 years, if not more,” said Denette.

The number of boxes is actually down from the 150 provided last year, said Food Bank Manager Sophie Soja, who will finish off the boxes with perishable items, including a turkey, just before the clients pick them up. But despite this glimmer of good news, many people continue to rely on the food bank.

“We’ve had some people coming for 10 years,” said Soja.

While the Rotary Club provides much of the labor and collected and donated much of the food and money, providing the Thanksgiving meal is the result of the generosity and hard work of a number of groups and individuals throughout town. Liberty Bank in East Haddam, in addition to collecting donations, also partially matches all of the goods and money collected for the benefit of the food bank.  Boy Scout Troop 22 also worked very hard collecting bottles and cans, raising $725 for the food bank. Last Monday, Nov. 21, Goodspeed Musicals offered patrons the opportunity to buy one ticket and get a second ticket free for matinee shows at both the Goodspeed Opera House and at The Norma Terris Theater, if they brought in a generous non-perishable food donation. All of the items were donated to the food bank.

“We need it,” said Soja of all of the donations the food bank has received. The need will continue, with Christmas just around the corner, as will the selfless work of the Rotarians and other volunteers who will, once again, collect donations and fill boxes to provide a holiday feast for those less fortunate.


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