COVENTRY — Turkeys in tow, local firefighters made their way Wednesday into the Coventry Food Bank on a mission to give their neighbors in need a happy Thanksgiving.
“People see us most of the time when it’s a bad time in their life,” said Jim Almagno, president of IAFF Local 3372, as a group of firefighters wheeled carts full of turkeys into the food bank on MacArthur Boulevard. “We want to try to be there during some of the good times, too.”
Purchased from BJ’s by the unions representing the Coventry, Central Coventry and Hopkins Hill fire districts, 50 turkeys — one bird for each firefighter — were delivered Wednesday.
Driven largely by a desire to give back, this was the sixth consecutive holiday season the unions have come together to make the turkey donation.
“It’s just our way to give back to the town and help the food bank in their mission to bring a happy Thanksgiving to the less fortunate families in town,” Almagno said.
Of around 20 firefighters who helped out delivering the turkeys Wednesday, just a few of them were actually on duty at the time, Almagno pointed out. Most gave their free time to lend a hand.
For the firefighters, making these kinds of contributions aligns well with the work they do every day — after all, Almagno said, “[their] job is to take care of people.”
“This is just another way that we can help,” he continued.
And the generosity is certainly appreciated.
“This is fantastic for the food bank, but obviously for the families that we service, too,” Stefani Weber, a coordinator at the Coventry Food Bank, said holding open a freezer door as turkeys were placed carefully inside.
The Coventry Food Bank will serve about 150 families this Thanksgiving, Weber said, and the food bank by Tuesday will be stocked with all the fixings for a festive feast.
“We don’t want to see anybody go without a Thanksgiving meal,” she continued. “This goes a long way.”
In addition to the firefighters’ donation, the Torino Social Club of Coventry makes an annual donation to the food bank of 50 turkeys, as well. The local schools have also been generous, Weber added, as have many stores, including Stop & Shop and Walmart.
Almagno added that he hopes the firefighters’ efforts inspires others from the community to contribute however they can.
“Even if somebody just brings over a couple of canned goods,” he said. “Every little bit counts.”
And for Frank Brown, chief of the Hopkins Hill and Central Coventry fire districts, it felt great to see local firefighters pitch in to ensure all residents can enjoy a happy holiday.
“It’s the best,” Brown said, as firefighters gathered outside the food bank just after delivering the turkeys. “We give back to the community through our service, and this just goes above and beyond.”
The turkey donation is just one of a number of ways in which local firefighters will be helping out during the holiday season. They’ll also hold a boot drive at the corner of Tiogue Avenue and Arnold Road to benefit Tis the Season from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday.