FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Despite bad weather on one day but with the help of more than 500 volunteers, Fairfield packed hundreds of boxes of canned goods this weekend to give to local charities as part of a celebration of its 375th anniversary.
From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. April 26, and Sunday, April 27, residents from across the town brought canned goods to the volunteers, who had taken over the student parking lot at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.
"It's a way to help the most people," Fairfield resident Susan Barrett said.
Seeing the food drive come together and watching it succeed was a great experience, Fairfield Probate Judge Dan Caruso said.
"We had people just doing it in their neighborhoods," Caruso said. He described one group of kids who took carts around to every house in their neighborhood to collect cans for the drive.
The historic food drive was one of the town’s key events in celebrating its 375th anniversary "highlighting Fairfield’s long tradition of helping others and spreading our spirited volunteerism that makes our town so unique," Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau said.
Most of the churches and synagogues in town also pitched in, each holding a canned food good of their own. "We just got 4,500 tins of tuna fish from St. Anthony's," Caruso said. Greenfield Hill Congregational Church brought in boxes of canned peaches.
Much of the food was collected before the weekend-long food drive. Schools had been collecting cans for several weeks, with students from Fairfield University, Sacred Heart University as well as both high schools volunteering to sort the food.
"We've got a great system," Caruso said. When a car drove up, volunteers immediately sorted the items into a box.
With the help of Meyer Van Lines, the volunteers boxed up hundreds of cans that will be taken to one of Bigelow Tea’s warehouses for storage, Caruso said. Charitable groups will go there to get the food.
“I think it’s a good experience for the town,” said Diane Auray, a member of the food drive committee. “We’ve collected an awful lot of food for people who need it.”
That is one of the reasons the Melborne family volunteered with the Fairfield Giant’s group.
“I wish they did this kind of thing annually,” Molly Melborne said. She brought her two sons, 10-year-old Jack and 5-year-old Harry, to volunteer Sunday afternoon. They regularly volunteer as a family, because giving back and volunteering is a lesson she tries to teach her boys, Melborne said.
“You never know if you’ll need help one day,” she said.
The food will be given to Operation Hope, The Bridgeport Rescue Mission and The Thomas Merton House. Food will also be given to the Fairfield-based A Project From the Heart, a group of local volunteers who send care packages to troops.