Eastern Opens Arms to Willimantic with Annual Day of Giving

Hurley Hall was the venue for the Day of Giving

Written by Jordan Corey

WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/21/2018) More than 500 local Willimantic residents enjoyed an early Thanksgiving meal at the 12th annual Day of Giving at Eastern Connecticut State University on Nov. 21.

The Day of Giving is a collaboration between Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), the Office of Institutional Advancement and Chartwells, Eastern’s food service provider. Turkey and traditional fixings were donated by the ECSU Foundation and Chartwells.

“The majority of the food is donated,” said Joe Salvaggio, senior director of Dining Services. “We start reaching out to our vendors in September and ask what they can do for donations. We have a couple repeat donors that provide to us every year. It’s an ‘all hands on deck’ event.”

CCE special events coordinator Sarah Tricarico, who was in charge of organizing student volunteers, commented that the lead-up to the Day of Giving is one of her favorite aspects of the event. She spoke on the importance of weekly food drives and the value of seeing donations go to those in need.

Amberlee Cubanski, the CCE student leader in charge of the event, said: “There are a lot of people who don’t have a hot meal on Thanksgiving. When they come here, there’s no discrimination, no judging. They can just come and have a nice meal. It’s really awesome to see everybody sit together, even if they don’t know who’s at the other end of the table.”

Staff from Chartwells prepared food and decorated the Hurley Hall dining room. More than 50 volunteers from Eastern, as well as a group from Putnam Public

More than 500 members of the Willimantic community showed up for the event.

School, served food, provided free transportation, welcomed guests, ran children’s activities and cleaned up.

Marisol, a member of the Willimantic community, praised the overall quality of the event. “I come every year,” she said. “It’s beautiful. It’s clean. The people are very polite. The relationship between Eastern and Willimantic is a good relationship.”

Interim Provost William Salka served stuffing at the food line – his first time with the Day of Giving. “People are very thankful, and we’re very happy to see them,” he said. “Eastern benefits so greatly from being in this community, it’s the least that we can do to give back.”

Sabrina Linares, Willimantic resident and Eastern student, highlighted the wholesome atmosphere of the occasion. “I bring my family with me. We get time to bond here.”

Tricarico concluded: “We continue to hold the Day of Giving because there’s need for it. To be able to offer people a good Thanksgiving meal… It’s great that we can provide that.”