NEWINGTON â€“ Newington police, firefighters and first responders joined Stew Leonardâ€™s and Rep. Gary Turco in handing out 3,000 turkeys to families in need this Thursday.
The distribution was Stew Leonardâ€™s 43rd annual â€śTurkey Brigade.â€ť Stew Leonardâ€™s team members and first responders formed an assembly line, passing out Thanksgiving turkeys to vehicles as they drove by.
Jake Tavello, vice president of Stew Leonardâ€™s, said that the tradition was started by his grandfather and that he is honored to be able to continue it.
â€śThere are so many people in need,â€ť he said. â€śAs a father of a young son, knowing that there are a lot of hungry families, it feels good to be doing something that is really making an impact in the community.â€ť
Stew Leonardâ€™s also presented a â€śHero of the Yearâ€ť community service award to Sylvia Smith of Peace Missionary Ministries, who was present at the â€śTurkey Brigadeâ€ť on Thursday.
â€śThey are cooking, preparing and serving meals for 1,000 people this year,â€ť said Tavello.
Smith said that it is an â€śhonorâ€ť to help those in need.
â€śWe have been doing this for a while now; it feels amazing to be able to reach out and help people,â€ť she said.
Newington Police Sergeant Ryan Deane was among a half-dozen officers present at the â€śTurkey Brigade.â€ť
â€śStew Leonardâ€™s has reached out to us for the past several years,â€ť he said. â€śWeâ€™re glad to come out to help the community and those in need. Itâ€™s a great cause. We want to make sure that everybody has a great holiday.â€ť
Fire Commission member Kent Stoddard said that it is â€śgreatâ€ť to support Stew Leonardâ€™s efforts to give back.
â€śStew Leonardâ€™s has really been helping a lot of people,â€ť he said. â€śThey have been doing this for years. Itâ€™s a great thing to do.â€ť
Turco said that, according to recent statistics from the nonprofit food bank network Feeding America, more than 490,000 Connecticut residents are struggling with food insecurity this year. The average cost of turkey has also increased to nearly $2 a pound this year, up from $1.15 in 2021.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-550-2689 or email@example.com.