Written by Christopher J. Herman
Willimantic, Conn. - On Nov. 21, Eastern Connecticut State University will host its sixth annual "Day of Giving Community Celebration," a Thanksgiving dinner for community members who are patrons of local soup kitchens and other social service agencies. The Thanksgiving meal will take place from noon to 2 p.m. in Hurley Hall, located on Eastern's North Campus.
The Day of Giving was started in 2007 by Jason Budahazy '09. This year, students Elise Davis, a senior from Warwick, RI, Elliott Woolworth, a junior from Bristol, Max Goto, a senior from Hamden, and Yollaine Kaja, a freshman from Naugutuck, have organized the event, supported by Eastern's Center for Community Engagement, AmeriCorps VISTA Jacqui De Cormier of Bolton, and the Office of Institutional Advancement. The coordinators have enlisted campus-wide support from Eastern's administration, resident assistants from the Office of Housing and Residential Life, student clubs and organizations, and Chartwells Dining Services. The local community has embraced the event by encouraging residents to attend and supporting food drives.
The project consists of two parts. The first is a large-scale food drive that takes place in the local community as well as on the Eastern campus. Local stores and businesses that have supported the food drive include Bob's IGA, Ted's IGA, the Willimantic Food Co-Op, Highland Park of Coventry, East Brook Mall, Main Street Café, Lebanon Green Market, Willimantic's Stop & Shop and Wal-Mart. More than 2,300 food items have been donated to date along with $2,306. Donations are distributed to area food pantries including the Northeast Food Collaborative, Covenant Soup Kitchen, Access Agency, Catholic Charities and others. The last food drives will take place at Walmart from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Nov. 17, as well as Bob's IGA from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Nov. 18.
The second part of the Day of Giving is a full-course Thanksgiving meal complete with all the trimmings for members of the Willimantic/Windham community who may otherwise not have a Thanksgiving dinner. Chartwells Dining Services and its vendors donate the food, and staff volunteers prepare and serve the meal. Eastern students, faculty, administration and alumni will volunteer at the event.
"Eastern's Day of Giving is a special event because it is student-driven," said Max Goto '13, one of the coordinators. "It would not be possible without the help of several key professionals and crucial departments here at Eastern, such as the CCE, under Director Kimberly Silcox; Eastern's AmeriCorps VISTA Jacqui De Cormier, overwhelming support from the University; and especially the ECSU Foundation, Inc., without which this event would not be possible."
For more information regarding the Day of Giving, contact the CCE at firstname.lastname@example.org.