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bridgeport rescue mission Something to be thankful for

November 20, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — Terry Wilcox has hope.

The executive director of the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, Wilcox has seen that things seem to be getting better for some of the people the mission serves through its shelters, food kitchens and other programs.

“It does seem as though some of the folks we work with are doing a little bit better,” he said. “We have seen some people get jobs that haven’t been able to in the past.”

But despite that incremental improvement and reports that the economy is growing, there is still so much need, Wilcox said.

For proof, he pointed to the thousands of people who have been picking up turkeys and other food during the mission’s annual Great ThanksGiving Project. Starting last week, the Rescue Mission began giving away roughly 15,000 coats, 3,200 turkeys and other food.

Monday was the second-to-last day of the six-day giveaway at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. That afternoon, people lined up in and around the arena, waiting for food and warm clothes. Though Wilcox said he has seen some evidence of an improving economy, the mission is actually giving away more food than ever, and the organization’s shelters remain full, he said.

“Our numbers are not going down,” he said. “They have increased every year. You don’t come wait in line for two hours for turkey and a bag of food if you don’t have to.”

The Webster Bank event is actually the second part of the Great ThanksGiving Project, as the mission ran a giveaway from last Thursday through Saturday in South Norwalk that served around 500 people. The Bridgeport event had served roughly 1,600 people already by Monday afternoon, but Wilcox said he expected to serve at least 3,200 by Tuesday.

Though most people receiving the food and other items had to register in advance, same-day registration was available and, on Monday afternoon, a line was forming behind the arena of people waiting to sign up for the program.

On the other side of the arena was a table covered in black tote bags full of Thanksgiving food — a frozen turkey, a five-pound bag of potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, gravy and other fixings. Volunteers handed off the bags to waiting customers — some of whom had come prepared with their own shopping carts to carry away the goodies.

That included Tina Tracy, 54, of Bridgeport, who was toting away her turkey day dinner, along with some coats for herself and her family. “It’s good to help,” she said of the giveaway. “It’s helping me.”

Pearl Swilling, 76, of Bridgeport, agreed. She said this is her third year picking up food from the event, and it’s a huge help to her, and to others who might be struggling.

“There are so many who don’t have a happy Thanksgiving,” she said. “They really need this.”

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