By Rob Glidden
Volunteers from ESPN returned to Camp Sloper to assist with the Community Services Department’s Thanksgiving event, a collaboration which is an annual tradition.
Under the pavilion at Sloper, the workers spent Monday morning sorting out the truckloads of food donated by numerous Southington businesses and civic groups. Later in the day, needy residents arrived to receive the donations.
In addition to food, a huge pile of winter coats rested on a nearby picnic table. These would also be given to those who showed up at the pavilion.
“We’re thrilled to be here for another year,” said Shelley Hunter, a corporate outreach coordinator for ESPN. “It’s really grown after all this time.”
Her fellow coordinator Don Brooks added that for ESPN staff, the Thanksgiving activity was “one of their favorite events.”
The Community Services Department has done Thanksgiving events for many years and used to have to operate them from their former office in the basement of Town Hall. The rising need in the community increased the scale of the event and made a new venue necessary. Sloper provides plenty of space but the department was very relieved when ESPN began to offer help in terms of the work involved.
“This would not be possible without all these volunteers,” said Mark Fazzoliri, an assistant director with Community Services.
After several years of participating, the volunteers can typically direct themselves, offering the busy staff of the department a welcome rest.
“They’re very good about notifying us about opportunities for volunteer work like this,” said ESPN volunteer Mike Gremelspacher.
Fellow volunteer Jessica Messenger was also pleased with the change of pace from the usual office work.
“It’s great that we have this time to get away from work and to help out here,” she said. “It’s nice to help out the community.”