By Lisa Capobianco
Volunteers from ESPN continued their tradition of giving back by assisting Southington Community Services’ Thanksgiving event, held at the Drive-in Pavilion on Monday.
Under the pavilion, volunteers spent the morning sorting and organizing boxes of food for residents who are in need. By noon, residents lined up to bring home their turkeys, mashed potatoes, and apple pies donated by Roger’s Orchards.
“Our family believes very strongly in supporting our community,” said John Rogers, who donated 88 apple pies and 180 bags of apples from his farm. “We get satisfaction helping people in our community.”
Besides food, Community Services also distributed winter coats, all lined up on a rack so residents receiving donations could also keep warm during the winter. By the early afternoon, three-fourths of the coats were already donated. About 15 volunteers from Community Services helped out during the event, bringing supplies over the weekend to make sure that preparations ran smoothly for Monday.
“It feels good to know that you are helping families,” said Mark Fazzolari, the assistant director of Southington Community Services.
Janet Mellon, the director of Southington Community Services, said she feels thrilled how the Thanksgiving event turned out, especially with its new location. Last year the event took place at Camp Sloper, which also provided plenty of space.
“This worked out wonderfully,” Mellon said. “It is closer. It is right on the main route.”
ESPN employees have collaborated with Community Services for at least eight years, calling the event one of their favorite ways to give back.
“This is one of our favorite events of the entire year,” said Corporate Outreach Program Manager Don Brooks. “It is the most interaction they get with the community, to see the faces they serve.”
The annual Thanksgiving event serves as just one way ESPN plans to lend helping hand this holiday season, since the company’s “50 Days of Thanks and Giving” kicked off earlier this month. “50 Days of Thanks and Giving” provides employees with at least 70 opportunities to give back to different communities.
Brooks said “50 Days” serves as a reminder for all ESPN employees that they can engage in a variety of different community service events.
“It reminds employees that they have a lot to be thankful for,” Brooks said, adding that volunteering has become a major part of ESPN’s culture.
About 100 volunteers participated in the Thanksgiving event, including Andy Lachapelle, a Quality Assurance Architect at ESPN. Lachapelle said the holidays would not feel the same if he did not return as a volunteer.
“It would not be Thanksgiving unless I did this,” Lachapelle said. “It makes me feel good.”