Waterbury volunteers show big hearts on Thanksgiving Day


It may’ve been frigid outside, but inside the First Congregational Church in Waterbury, there was nothing but warmth on Thanksgiving Day thanks to Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries and a team of volunteers from several Waterbury-area groups and businesses who made sure hundreds of people who are down on their luck could enjoy some fellowship and food.

“I do this because I’m an American and I like to give back,” said Ricky Reyes, a volunteer. “There’s a lot of homeless individuals that are less fortunate than we are and I think we should take care of them.”

The Elks Club had a number of volunteers dishing out all of the Thanksgiving favorites like turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Several members even helped to cook the food. They may have been tired, but they certainly didn’t show it.

Related Content: Waterbury police, community youth come together for a holiday gathering

“A motto we have at the Elks Lidge is Elks care
and Elks share so it’s important that we give back to our community,” said Brian Galek, a member of Waterbury Elks Lodge 265.

They also got a hand cooking all of the food from Mahan’s Fine Catering in Wolcott.

Toni Richardson was grateful. She’s on welfare right now and described her situation as being: “Hard…it’s rough and tough,” she said.

But, the warm plate of food and words of encouragement from the volunteers brought a smile to her face.

“I used to be on welfare,” Nancy Reyes said to Toni. “That’s why I come and I do this so that I can help other people feel better.” 

That hearty helping of compassion made Toni realize Thanksgiving was not just about the food.

“There’s a lot of love in this room,” she said.

“The heart of Waterbury?” said Ricky Reyes, Nancy’s husband. “I’ve been here almost all my life I’ll tell you what we’re strong. We’re a proud people and we try to take care of our own.”

Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries has been doing that for a decade on Thanksgiving Day, thanks to their volunteers and proud members of the Waterbury community like Ricky.

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