It's 5:00 p.m., in the mid 30's and the chilly November air is whipping across the dimly lit parking lot. In the parking lot is a Ledyard Police officer standing next to a cruiser, shuffling his feet and sipping coffee trying to stay warm. As people walk toward him he greets them, takes their gift and says, "thank you" and "we appreciate it" hundreds of times. In the back of the police car, bags upon bags of groceries are stacked from top to bottom and side-to-side.
He is there collecting food donations on behalf of the Ledyard Youth and Social Services in conjunction with the Ledyard Police Department. Ledyard Police Lt. Michael Finkelstein volunteered his time to help out with the second annual "Stuff a Cruiser" fundraiser which occurred on Sunday, Nov. 11 and Thursday, Nov. 15 outside Starr Wood Food Market.
Lt. Finkelstein, who volunteered last year as well, said that this year's donations exceeded last year's.
Inside, Starr Wood Food Market customers could purchase pre-packed bags at checkout for $10. The bags contained enough food to cook a holiday meal for a family to enjoy. Customers were also able to donate any perishable items of their choosing which were also collected and brought to the Ledyard Youth and Social Services office.
Doris Fonner, assistant director of Ledyard Youth and Social Services, stated that when she arrived in the office Friday morning there was nowhere to walk because of all the food that had been dropped off by Finkelstein.
"I couldn't believe what was piled up in here," she said. "I couldn't walk through."
Doris thanked everyone, from the police donating their time to citizens donating what they could and the market for their assistane, saying that everyone was “phenomenal” in their effort to make sure everyone could enjoy the holidays. Fonner said that the residents “come through all the time for us" and that she was contacted by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which donated 100 turkeys,
“We got a wonderful donation last night,” said Fonner. “I was in tears.”
Donations will fill the shelves of Food Pantry during the holiday season. Meanwhile holiday food baskets will be given out to approximately 110 residents who signed up for the Thanksgiving Basket Program with Social Services.
“It’s more than ever,” said Fonner of the basket requests.