Willimantic, Conn. - On Nov. 27, Eastern Connecticut State University will host its seventh 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 event takes place from noon-2 p.m. in Hurley Hall on the Eastern campus. Eastern served more than 450 meals at last year's event. Parking will be available at Eastern's two parking garages.
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 support 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 Willimantic Food Co-op, Canterbury Better Value, Colchester's Noel Supermarket and Willimantic Stop and Shop.
Donations are distributed to area food pantries including the Covenant Soup Kitchen and the Catholic Charities Willimantic Office. So far the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) has collected 766 non-perishable food items and raised $495.
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. Vendors who supply Chartwells Dining Services will 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, volunteer and event coordinator for CCE. "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; overwhelming support from the University; and especially the ECSU Foundation, Inc., without which this event would not be possible."