BRIDGEPORT—For nine years, Sacred Heart University has been raising money to purchase Thanksgiving turkeys for the needy. This year, with the help of motivated students and community members and generous donors, the University exceeded its fundraising goal and purchased 1,300 turkeys, a record-breaking amount.
In the weeks leading up to the annual distribution event at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bridgeport, volunteer programs & service learning (VPSL) and campus ministry held a food drive and student government conducted a turkey drive. At the end of the food drive, more than 1,000 items were collected and, in part, because of a generous partnership with Harry Garafalo ’80 and the ShopRite of Milford, student government surpassed its target of 700 turkeys by 600. The ShopRite of Milford became SHU’s official turkey drive supplier, providing turkeys to the students below cost in order to have a greater impact this Thanksgiving.
On the chilly Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving, dozens of student-volunteers from VPSL, student government, student life, Greek life and SHU athletics gathered at St. Charles Borromeo Church to pass out turkeys and bags of non-perishable goods to the needy. Groups of warmly dressed students were present with smiles on their faces. As community members started to line up and wait for the food packages, they chatted with students who helped them carry their goods.
“It’s great we’re able to provide so much for the community,” said Anthony Smith, 21, a business management and finance major from New Jersey. “We’re all coming together for the common good. It’s a university-wide effort.”
It was sophomore Maisy Carvalho’s first year doing the turkey drive. As a member of student government, she was put on the turkey drive committee. “I was excited and honored to be a part of it all,” said the 19-year-old media studies major from Rhode Island. Raising $5,000 over their goal was “unreal,” she said.
“Everyone here is so grateful,” Carvalho said. “It’s really great to talk with the community members and make that personal connection.
Arlete Carmona, VPSL office and program manager, said without the food and the turkey drives, people would go hungry. “We’re filling that void,” she said. “It really means a lot to this community.”
A University food truck was also at the church Tuesday morning providing hot chocolate to students and community members.
A week earlier, the University held its annual interfaith service to kick off the season of giving. The food items that were collected were presented at the altar. Sr. Ann Moles of St. Charles, who has been part of the Thanksgiving distribution at the church for decades, was the service’s guest speaker. She was overwhelmed to see how much the community had donated. “We have a good God, don’t we,” Moles said as she held back tears and looked at all the canned goods and non-perishable food items. “I cannot believe how good people are.” She told the guests at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, “you don’t realize how much help this is.”
Moles was at the Bridgeport church Tuesday morning organizing and making sure everything ran smoothly.