Price Rite Marketplace and Feed the Children partnered with the Community Renewal Team (CRT) and Kraft for a donation event in West Hartford Wednesday to benefit 800 area families.
By Ronni Newton
The parking lot of the Price Rite Marketplace in West Hartford became a transfer station for food, personal care items, and childrens books Wednesday morning as a semi-trailer was unloaded just before hundreds of cars arrived to receive the donations – enough to feed about 800 families for a week, and take care of their other needs.
This is the ninth year that the Community Renewal Team (CRT) has hosted the Hartford area event. This year they collaborated with Price Rite, Feed the Children, and Kraft.
Jason Black, CRT’s communications director, said it’s been an amazing partnership. The event is usually held at the Xfinity Theater in Hartford, but Price Rite offered to host it in their West Hartford parking lot this year.
The families who receive donations are from all over the area, including West Hartford, and have all been pre-registered and given vouchers by CRT.
“Thank you, you’re doing a good thing, helping children get the start they need,” Jim Dorey, president of Price Rite Marketplace, said at a ceremony just before the families began to arrive.
West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor also thanked the organizations for their generosity and vision, and for arranging the event and taking care of area families. She also read a proclamation on behalf of the town.
Children can’t learn properly if they’re malnourished, Cantor said, and there is an incredible diversity in West Hartford – great wealth as well as significant poverty. “We work closely with [Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore] to make sure every child can live up to their limitless potential.”
“Our families are very, very needy, and we appreciate your generosity,” said CRT President and CEO Lena Rodriguez. It’s amazing how well-organized Feed the Children and Price Rite were in setting up the donation site for maximum efficiency, she added.
“I’m just blown away by what CRT does,” said State Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, and not only is Price Rite donating food and other items, but their staff was also out in the parking lot, donating their time as volunteers for the event.
“There’s so much joy and energy here,” Gilchrest said.
West Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Tom Moore said that nationwide about 13 million kids went to school Wednesday hungry or faced with food insecurity. In West Hartford, one in four households qualify for free or reduced lunch.
“Thank you to Price Rite for providing hope,” Moore said. “You can’t learn if all you are thinking about is ‘how am I going to feed myself,’ and I can’t thank you enough for what you are doing for our families, our children.”
Moore said he especially liked that books were part of the donation because that’s a luxury many families can’t afford. “It’s a special touch that uplifts our kids, gives them hope for the future so they can reach their destiny.”
Dozens of volunteers from throughout the area came out to assist, unloading the semi-trailer, unpacking and stacking items, and loading the donations into the hundreds of cars that lined up in the parking lot.
“Today is my birthday, and I’m 58 today and what better way to celebrate,” said West Hartford resident Dana Keller. Twelve friends, from West Hartford and Avon, joined Keller on the cold and blustery morning to volunteer at the event.
“Why go out to lunch when you can do this?” Keller said.
Michael Ippolito, director of Human Resources for Price Rite, said that the company partners with Feed the Children in eight states, and helps 22,000 people per year through similar events, including the 800 in the West Hartford and Hartford area. Together they have created the initiative “Feeding Minds & Bodies.”
Each family arriving at Price Rite Wednesday received a 25-pound box of food; a 10-pound box of “essentials” like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and other personal care items; several children’s books; and a bag of fresh produce and shelf-stable items.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!