SOUTHINGTON — An annual joint fundraiser between Liberty Bank and Rotary Clubs statewide raised a record-breaking $1.4 million for food related initiatives.
Of that amount, Rotary Club of Southington Service Projects Chair Rebecca Terricciano said the partnership raised around $280,000 locally through the Liberty Bank/Rotary Thanksgiving Dinner Drive, which will be distributed to several local organizations running food pantries, holiday baskets and meal distributions.
“The needs in the community are really large right now so I think they're grateful to have the support of our Southington residents and community partners,” she said.
That money will go toward organizations like Southington Community Services, which runs a food pantry and holiday meal distribution; the Salvation Army; United Way; a food pantry run by The Tabernacle church; and Bread for Life, which serves hot meals and delivers food to those who are unable to leave their homes.
The Rotary club also used some of the funds to run its own Senior Holiday Luncheon on Dec. 1. In the past, the luncheon was a big get-together between Rotarians and seniors living in Southington Housing Authority complexes, however to be cautious during the pandemic they instead delivered the meals to residents’ doorsteps.
From Nov. 1 through Nov. 20, Rotary, Liberty Bank and participating organizations collected donations which were put into a fund at the bank. On Nov. 22, the funds were distributed to the organizations plus a 25 percent contribution from Liberty Bank, which amounted to $286,275 this year.
The fundraiser is also known as the turkey leg drive, as tellers at Liberty Bank encourage customers to donate by purchasing a paper turkey leg, with the proceeds going to the fund.
“As a community bank that’s been around for nearly 200 years, we are fully dedicated to fulfilling our mission: to improve the lives of our customers, teammates and communities for generations to come,” said Liberty Bank President David W. Glidden. “With the help of Rotary partners and our generous community, our goal was to raise enough money to provide Thanksgiving food and to stock local food pantries in preparation for the cold winter months. This holiday season, we are grateful to everyone who stepped up to make a difference.”
Southington Community Services Director Janet Mellon said the turkey leg drive is one of the best programs in town supporting food security for residents. When she first heard about the 25 percent matching contribution, she said it sounded too good to be true, but they’ve been consistently supporting the efforts of organizations large and small in town for years now.
“I mean Liberty Bank and Rotary have to me one of the best fundraisers ever and I have to say that Liberty Bank in general is a very generous and wonderful bank,” she said.
In addition to the food pantry they run on weekdays, volunteers have been hard at work preparing to deliver around 1,200 holiday baskets to client families in the coming weeks. Each basket contains a grocery store gift card and non-perishables, like canned potatoes and cranberry sauce.
Aside from how much it raises, Mellon said the drive stands out for how many organizations it benefits. She said Rotary members spend time making calls around and researching new efforts they can support every year, allowing it to reach smaller organizations.
“They took the time and the trouble to work with Liberty Bank to find who could be a part of the turkey leg,” she said. “They know this community, Liberty Bank and the Rotary,” she said.
Jack Eisenmann, executive director of United Way of Southington, said around 30 percent of Southington residents could benefit from aid with basic needs like food. The money they receive is redistributed as grants to partner agencies that provide food to residents, including Southington Community Services and Bread for Life.
Fundraisers like the turkey leg drive have allowed the United Way to continue operating at full capacity through the pandemic, which is in large part thanks to donors like Liberty Bank.
“It’s been nothing but fantastic the way they step up and try to do their best to help us,” Eisenmann said.