NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — The countdown is on! The Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Parade and Festival del Coqui is happening Sunday at Bushnell Park in Hartford.

As excitement builds for this year’s vibrant display of Puerto Rican culture and heritage, organizers kicked off the festivities with a big donation event for families on Tuesday at New Britain Stadium.

The parade kickoff celebration focused on celebrating community and solidarity.

“We are so proud and so honored that they chose us to help feed our families. Obviously, there is a big need right now,” New Britain’s Republican Mayor Erin Stewart said.

Goya Foods Inc. partnered with the Connecticut Institute for Community Development (CICD) Puerto Rican Parade committee, donating 7,000 pounds of food to the Human Resources Agency (HRA) of New Britain.

“We don’t just give to the community. We’re part of the community, and we feel that that is a responsibility. And we feel the best way to serve that responsibility is with our food,” Goya Public Relations Director Raphael Toro said.

Dr. Marlo Greponne, the director of the Human Resource Agency of New Britain, told News 8 that the generous donation will significantly impact the city of New Britain.

“They are doing this so that we’re able to ensure that it’s reaching the families who need it the most,” Greponne said.

Organizers said in challenging times like these, it is vital to come together and help families like Esther Santana’s of New Britain.

“I am very appreciative, especially for my mother, who is disabled and on a very low income. She is very appreciative of that. And not only does it represent our culture – there is a diverse population here,” Santana said.

From beans and rice to other essential items, thousands of bags filled with food will provide meals to 1,500 families in the New Britain area.

“Let us remember that today’s act of generosity is about more than just food. It’s a symbol of unity, compassion, and hope for a better future,” said Sammy Vega, president of the CICD Puerto Rican Parade.

News 8 is a proud media sponsor of the Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Parade and Festival del Coqui.