EAST HAVEN, CT — In the early days of the pandemic, sensing then what has become a widespread problem now —the need to help stock food pantries as food insecurity has increased since the beginning of the coronavirus — the Gambardella kids were outside their home again Saturday with a drive-thru food drive to help stock shelves at the East Haven Food Pantry.
Back in late April, the very young Gambardella children were inspired by others working to help feed the hungry. So inspired, they set up a stand outside their home the first Saturday in May and were joined by the family next door, the Parisi's. Read the full story from May here.
Toddlers and preschoolers, the kids were helped by their parents.
"We had a wonderful turn out again for our food drive," Bethany Gambardella told Patch.
"We had such an amazing experience in May that we wanted to have another drive before Thanksgiving to help those in need. It was such a teachable moment for our kids," she said. "This year has been really difficult for so many, it is the least we can do."
Like the drive in May, the Parisi family and the Gambardella families worked together to set up a stand for folks to drive by and donate food items.
"We are so lucky to have such an amazing neighbor and a community that comes together to help each other," Bethany said.
The Gambardella family is kids Gracie, 4, and Frankie, 2, dad Frank, an Eagle Scout and troop leader who works for a beer distributor and mom Bethany, a Kindergarten teacher in Trumbull who is teaching online.
The Parisi family is kids Max and Dante, dad Anthony, a physical education teacher in New Haven, and mom Mindy, an art teacher at East Haven High School.
Getting the word out
Bethany said that beyond the many who showed up Saturday morning to drop off food, the families decided to further promote their drive by "spreading the word via social media, flyers, and signs."
"We had friends from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Florida send donations via Stop and Shop Peapod and Amazon," she said. "We were speechless."
Bethany said that in addition to friends, family, neighbors, and strangers stopping by to donate, little Grace Gambardella and little Dante Parisi, both in the same kindergarten class at Deer Run elementary school, had their "incredible teacher Mrs. Afragola show up to donate to the drive."
Bethany said they filled a pickup truck and an SUV full of food for the East Haven Food Pantry. We still have donations coming in and will be making another donation this week.
Way to go, kids!
Patch has partnered with Feeding America to help raise awareness on behalf of the millions of Americans facing hunger. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that in 2020, more than 54 million Americans will not have enough nutritious food to eat due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a Patch social good project; Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. Find out how you can donate in your community or find a food pantry near you.