SHU's Turkey Drive Provides for Community

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—The Sacred Heart University community raised nearly $15,000 to date to purchase 500 turkeys for Bridgeport families just in time for Thanksgiving. Fundraising continues to help additional families throughout the month of December. 

SHU’s student government hosted its 12th annual turkey drive and welcomed donations from friends of the University, faculty, staff and students throughout November. The generous help of alum Harry Garafalo ’80, his nephew James Garafalo and ShopRite of Milford ensured the University would be able to give hundreds of turkeys to community members. 

In addition to the annual turkey drive, the office of community engagement and SHU athletics conducted its yearly food drive to collect nonperishable goods. Thanks to the help of Arlete Perez Paez, assistant director of community engagement, participants brought in thousands of items that were then blessed at the University’s recent interfaith service.

In keeping with tradition, on a chilly Tuesday morning two days before Thanksgiving, staff, student government members, members of the SHU men’s lacrosse team and members of the office of community engagement gathered at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bridgeport to hand out turkeys and the divvied-up food items. Dressed in heavy jackets, SHU-branded scarfs and hats, the smiling student-volunteers distributed the goods to grateful community members. 

Cars pulled up, popped open their trunks and students placed reusable shopping bags filled to the brim with goods. Community members thanked the students for what would become their Thanksgiving meals. 

“This is one of my favorite SHU traditions, because it brings together our campus and greater Bridgeport communities, reminding us of our shared humanity and celebrating this time of gratitude,” said Annie Johnson, director of community engagement. “It’s inspiring to see SHU students, faculty and staff come together to address the issue of food insecurity and commit to sharing our blessings with neighbors.”

Student government starting planning and organizing the drive months ago. Senior Megan Clifford and junior Anna Macaulay were thrilled to see the club’s hard work pay off with the handing out of Thanksgiving turkeys and food. 

“I love seeing the impact this event has on so many lives in the community,” said Clifford, student government president. 

“I like being out here in the community,” said Macaulay, student government’s director of community and inclusion. “We really just want to be good neighbors and make sure local families get what they need for the holidays.” 

The SHU community can continue to donate to the turkey drive and help families throughout the holiday season by visiting the drive’s fundraising page. On December 9, the SHU Alumni Association, in collaboration with alum Doug Wade ’77 will be hosting the distribution at Wade’s Dairy. Each turkey donation will include other contributions from Wade’s like milk and eggs. Nuovo Pasta will provide packages of pasta. 

At the University’s annual interfaith service held the week before Thanksgiving, students, staff and faculty gave thanks for their many blessings. The SHU choir sang joyful songs, and community members read psalms and prayers.

Venerable Shim Bo, the University’s Buddhist chaplain, reminded the group gathered in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit that many people, especially during the holidays, suffer from loneliness and lack of human connection. He asked everyone to give “nonperishable heart items” such as attention, patience, thanks, gratitude, hugs and smiles to others. 

“Let us stock the shelves of loneliness with connection,” he said. 

About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing private doctoral institutions in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has a campus in Dingle, Ireland, and offers online programs. More than 10,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education & Human Development; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 389 Colleges: 2024 Edition, and Best Business Schools: 2023 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliate station, WSHU Public Radio, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theatre.

Submitted by Fairfield, CT

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