'There's nothing like helping people': Milford volunteers provide Thanks-For-Giving meals

MILFORD — Milford Scouts, Stop & Shop employees and local volunteers worked together to provide 350 Thanksgiving meals to Milford families in need on Saturday.

“There’s nothing like helping people, and the need is greater than ever right now,” said Donna Laffaldano, chairman of the drive, which was called Thanks-For-Giving.

Stop & Shop’s Turkey Express donated 350 Thanksgiving turkeys and $3,000 in Stop & Shop gift cards. Volunteers put together holiday meal bags with food purchased from the gift cards. Milford Boy Scout Troop 1, as well as other local Boy and Girl Scout troops, were involved in the effort.

According to Laffaldano, a food donation was also given to several local food pantries and charities.

“Pre-COVID, we normally have people stand outside of the store the entire weekend and collect donations from customers and people going in and out of the store. Because of COVID, we weren’t able to allow them to do that, so we stepped in and made the donation directly to the food drive,” said Maura O’Brien, Stop & Shop manager for community relations.

Additionally, a contactless food collection was held Thursday at Milford Public Schools.

The city of Milford determines which residents qualify for the food.

“We work with the city of Milford and get a list of people generated from the health and human services department,” said Donna Laffaldano, chairman of the drive. Laffaldano’s 17-year-old-son Jack is a member of Troop 1 and just became an Eagle Scout. The Laffaldanos were involved with the drive since Jack was 6.

The Scouts put together the Thanksgiving food bags at a local field. They formed an assembly line and worked in shifts.

About 80 people on the list picked up their meal in person, and the rest had the food delivered to their homes. Everyone on the list was contacted ahead of time to make sure they would be home at the scheduled delivery time.

Aside from the families who were on the list, anyone else who wanted a food bag on Saturday was welcome to one. “If someone came and said, ‘We were on the list last year but we’re not this year’ or if somebody pulled up and said ‘We need food,’ we gave them a basket,” she said.

“It took all day to deliver to about 300 families,” Laffaldano said. “Stop & Shop provided us with a Peapod delivery truck for about four hours.” Local volunteers used their own private vehicles.

She added that “it’s one thing to collect thing to collect the food, but it’s a whole other experience to go to somebody’s house and bring them food and they cry — that is how much of an impact this has on people, and that’s what drives me to do it.”