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Feature in the Newspaper on Thanksgiving



Holiday help for those in need 



Pastor, parishioners distribute Thanksgiving food to Bridgeport’s needy 

   By Frank Juliano

      BRIDGEPORT — An hour after the doors opened Wednesday morning, volunteers at Blessed Sacrament Church had distributed more than 500 grocery bags — each with enough food to feed a family of four for a week. But at least 1,000 more food bags were lined up in front of the room-length radiator in the parish hall, and the distribution was set to continue into the early afternoon. Once outside, recipients could exchange a blue ticket for one of the frozen turkeys that the Rev. Joseph “Skip” Karcsinski, the pastor, and other volunteers were passing out from the back of a refrigerated truck. “This is how we’ll eat tomorrow,” one woman said on her way out of the hall. She opened the bag for a reporter to see inside. There were cans of green beans and corn, a box of stuffing and another of mashed potatoes, coffee, apple cider, a packet of gravy mix, popcorn, raisins and breakfast cereal. Another woman asked to be admitted even though her drivers’ license did not have an address in the East End. The church’s immediate neighborhood gets priority. As each hour went by, another Bridgeport ZIP code was included. “I live on Connecticut Avenue with my mother,” the      woman told Ann LeStrange, director of the church’s food pantry. “I don’t have any mail with that address on it.”  The situation was resolved and the woman, who also asked not to be identified, got her food. 

   The holiday food distribution has gone on for nearly 30 years at Blessed Sacrament, and the program gets bigger every year, said Jackie Soares, one of the coordinators.  “We’re connected to St. Michael (the Archangel) Church, in Greenwich, as sister parishes, and they help us a lot,” Soares said. The Blessed Sacrament gospel choir also performs at Masses in other parishes, in exchange for donated food items to stock its pantry shelves, she said.     

   Chris Cosenza, 12, helped carry in bags and boxes of donated food, “because I like to help people,” he said.  “There are a lot of poor people in this area that can use the help,” the Stamford resident said. About a dozen St. Michael’s parishioners also brought two U-Haul trucks filled with donated food to the Bridgeport church hall on Tuesday night, coordinator Ted Conforti said. 

   “Our overall effort included about 75 people and provided about half the food that’s being distributed,” he said. “Some of the volunteers are members of the Confirmation class who are earning community service hours by participating.”  , @ FrankJuliano