EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — National Public Works Week’ is underway and communities across the country are honoring contributions made by public works employees.

In East Hartford, the Public Works Department is taking this week created to recognize them, and giving back instead — volunteering at the Foodshare distribution site at Rentschler Field

“We just wanted to be visible to the community and show our appreciation for them by doing our jobs and giving back and volunteering,” said John Lawlor, Director of Public Works for the Town of East Hartford. 

The drive-through food distribution site provides daily for the food insecure, a number that has increased since the pandemic shutdowns began. 

In the four weeks since the site opened, over 600,000 pounds of food has been distributed to over 30,000 cars.

East Hartford’s public works staff will be volunteering all week. 

“This is what we do. We help people,” said Gary McKeone, superintendent of the East Hartford Parks Department. “Whether we’re plowing snow, whether we’re lining a ball field, whether we’re fixing a storm drain, or whether we’re distributing food here.” 

The regional food bank running the site is grateful for the help. 

“I’ve got four Foodshare staff here right now. I’ve got 40 volunteers,” said Dom Piccini, Foodshare’s logistics manager. “We could not do this without our volunteers.” 

While this week is usually filled with community events to celebrate these essential employees, this year, the East Hartford Public Library is honoring them virtually instead. Resources to educate people on the vital operations of public works will be posted to their Facebook page all week long. 

East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclarc says this department absolutely deserves the recognition. 

“We sometimes take these things for granted,” she said. “And I think it’s important to celebrate their contribution to the community and the larger community.”