Newington police, firefighters, first responders hand out 3,000 turkeys to families in need at Stew Leonard's

Published on Thursday, 17 November 2022 14:01


NEWINGTON – Newington police, firefighters and first responders joined Stew Leonard’s and Rep. Gary Turco in handing out 3,000 turkeys to families in need this Thursday.

The distribution was Stew Leonard’s 43rd annual “Turkey Brigade.” Stew Leonard’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 Leonard’s, said that the tradition was started by his grandfather and that he is honored to be able to continue it.

“There are so many people in need,” he said. “As 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.”

Stew Leonard’s also presented a “Hero of the Year” community service award to Sylvia Smith of Peace Missionary Ministries, who was present at the “Turkey Brigade” on Thursday.

“They are cooking, preparing and serving meals for 1,000 people this year,” said Tavello.

Smith said that it is an “honor” to help those in need.

“We have been doing this for a while now; it feels amazing to be able to reach out and help people,” she said.

Newington Police Sergeant Ryan Deane was among a half-dozen officers present at the “Turkey Brigade.”

“Stew Leonard’s has reached out to us for the past several years,” he said. “We’re glad to come out to help the community and those in need. It’s a great cause. We want to make sure that everybody has a great holiday.”

Fire Commission member Kent Stoddard said that it is “great” to support Stew Leonard’s efforts to give back.

“Stew Leonard’s has really been helping a lot of people,” he said. “They have been doing this for years. It’s a great thing to do.”

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

Posted in Newington Town Crier, Newington News on Thursday, 17 November 2022 14:01. Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2022 14:03.