Congresswoman Jahana Hayes volunteers at annual Waterbury Thanksgiving feast

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Waterbury’s First Congregational Church was filled with hundreds of people down on their luck Thursday. They came together to seek fellowship and food on Thanksgiving Day.

It’s been an annual meal hosted by Greater Waterbury Ministries (GWIM) for more than ten years. It draws many volunteers hoping to make the day brighter for others.

“It’s about helping those who can’t help themselves at times,” said Manny Pinho, a Waterbury resident spending his holiday scooping mashed potatoes in GWIM’s kitchen. “It’s a warm glow and it’s a great feeling.”

It’s a great feeling also for Gregory Kane, one of those who came to take advantage of the holiday spirit and goodwill. He is at First Congressional Thursday because times are tough this year. If he weren’t inside the church, he would have been outside on the street panhandling to come up with enough change to grab something to eat at a nearby store.

“It’s like degrading for myself,” Kane said. But he said, the volunteers and organizers at GWIM make him feel better about himself.

“I think that’s nice that people go out of their way to help people, you know?” said Kane.

Fifth District Congresswoman, Rep. Jahana Hayes, was there volunteering. She told News8 the compassion shown at the event is something she’d like to bottle and take back with her to Washington.

Representative Jahanah Hayes volunteered at GWIM Thanksgiving event in Waterbury.

“Everything here can be taken back to Washington and I think it starts with basic humanity and an acknowledgment that all people have value,” said Representative Hayes.

The compassion Kane says he felt makes this a successful day in many people’s minds.

Success is also measured in numbers. Thanks to food donations by the community, they were able to serve close to 400 meals — something organizers say is outstanding considering they put out an appeal a few weeks ago because donations to their food pantry were down and they feared they wouldn’t have enough food this year to meet demand.

“This meal was a great success,” said Barbara Ann Dublin of GWIM. “Everyone in the community came together, brought turkeys and plenty of food to make this day special for our beautiful people.”

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