By SHERIDAN CYR
The Rotary Club of Southington, along with the Lions Club, UNICO, the United Way of Southington, and Smokin’ with Chris, partnered with the local Liberty Bank branch to raise $70,225 in the Liberty Bank/ Rotary Club Thanksgiving Drive to feed Southington residents on Thanksgiving Day.
Southington’s drive earned the distinction of being the highest fundraiser among all participating rotary clubs in the state.
Now in its 14th year, the Thanksgiving Drive raised record-breaking levels across the state, totaling $356,372. The Liberty Bank Foundation matches each dollar raised with an additional 25 cents. With their matching, Southington’s funds went from $70,255 to $88,281, all to provide Southington residents with a Thanksgiving dinner.
“It is very rewarding to know we’re in such an incredible town that just wants to help others,” said Robert Flood, vice president and branch manager at the Southington Liberty Bank. “The Rotary is a great organization, and all of these groups came together to make sure food is available for others.”
Flood reported that in 2016, the United Way of Southington conducted a study in town that showed one-third of residents have a need for some form of day-to-day help, for example food, clothes, school supplies, or housing.
“It’s nice that Liberty Bank is stepping up to help,” said Flood. This is the fourth year that the Southington branch took part in the Thanksgiving drive, and he reported that the branch “more than doubled last year’s numbers.”
All funds raised in Southington benefited Southington Community Services Food Pantry, Lisa, Inc., and Bread for Life.
In a press release, executive director of the Liberty Bank Foundation Sue Murphy said there are nearly 600,000 people in Connecticut who struggle to put food on the table. “Thanks to our wonderful community collaboration with the Rotary, we’re able to stock the shelves at food pantries assist local social services organizations, and fill Thanksgiving baskets.”
This year, forty Rotary Clubs and the East Haddam Community Lions Club teamed up with 55 Liberty Bank offices to raise funds in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Since it began in 2004, the drive has raised over $2 million.
Flood said that private individuals and local businesses are already calling in, asking how they can be a part of next year’s drive.
“We’re confident that [the drive] will continue to see growth,” said Flood. “With the help from the community, it’s just going to keep expanding year after year.”
The Liberty Bank Foundation was established in 1997 and has since awarded over $10.7 million in grants to nonprofit organizations within Liberty Bank’s market area. The foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for people of low to moderate income by investing in three areas: education to promote economic success for children and families, affordable housing, and basic needs.
The Rotary is a global network of more than 1.2 million volunteer leaders who tackle the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. There are 34,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.