Photo: Contributed Photo / Liberty Bank
MIDDLETOWN — As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, many Connecticut families will be looking for help to enable them to sit down to a traditional holiday feast.
Middletown-based Liberty Bank and 45 local Rotary clubs are teaming up to make sure that everyone in Central, Eastern and Shoreline Connecticut can enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving meal, according to a press release.
Liberty’s 60 branch offices will accept donations to local Rotary clubs for the purpose of providing Thanksgiving food through Nov. 21. Every dollar donated at an office will be matched with 25 cents from the Liberty Bank Foundation. On Nov. 23, the clubs will withdraw the funds and either purchase and deliver food for needy families, or donate the funds to a local human services agency that provides these items, the release said.
Since it began in 2004, the Liberty Bank/Rotary Club Thanksgiving Dinner Drive has raised over $3 million to supply holiday meals to residents of the towns served by the bank. Last year’s drive raised over $450,000, and was matched with almost $115,000 from the Liberty Bank Foundation, for a total of over $565,000.
This year, with the dramatic increase in food insecurity generated by the pandemic, the goal is to raise a combined total of $800,000.
“We’ve all seen on TV the long lines of cars at Rentschler Field waiting for food,” Sue Murphy, executive director of the Liberty Bank Foundation, said in a prepared statement. “With 47 percent of Connecticut residents having experienced a loss in work-related income due to the pandemic, more people than ever are struggling to put their daily food on the table — much less a Thanksgiving feast.
“With the help of our Rotary partners and a generous public, we can change that. Our goal is to raise enough money not just to provide Thanksgiving food, but to stock our food pantries for the winter,” Murphy said.
The following Rotary clubs are participating: Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Branford, Bristol, Cheshire, Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, Derby/Shelton, East Hampton, East Hartford, East Haven, Groton, Hamden, Kensington/Berlin, Ledyard, Madison, Meriden, Middletown, Montville, Mystic, Naugatuck, New Britain/Berlin, New Haven, New London, Newington, Niantic, North Branford, North Haven, Norwich, Old Saybrook, Plainville, Seymour/Oxford, Simsbury/Granby, South Central CT, Southington, Stoningtons, Tribury, Wallingford, Waterbury, Waterford, West Hartford, Wethersfield/Rocky Hill, Willimantic, Woodbridge, and the East Haddam Community Lions Club.
Each office will collect contributions for its local Rotary, so the funds will remain in the communities where they were donated. Some Rotaries will collect and distribute funds for nearby towns as well as their own, so that every town with a Liberty Bank office will be included, the release said.
The thanksgiving dinner drive was first conceived by the Middletown Rotary Club, which, for several years conducted its own fundraising drive to provide food for needy families on Thanksgiving. In 2004, the club approached the bank to see if it would be interested in a partnership to enlarge the drive.
The bank responded that it would support the drive if it could be expanded throughout its entire service area. Members of the Middletown Rotary reached out to fellow Rotarians in other towns. Now, 45 clubs are involved, covering every town where Liberty has an office.
Rotary is a global network of more than 1.2 million volunteer leaders who dedicate their time and talent to tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges, according to the agency.
There are 34,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races and creeds. Their work impacts lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.