My mother was obsessed with food. It wasn't just because it was sustenance. She had to be surrounded by food. For that matter, so did the whole family. When one grows up in a large Italian family, food is central to everything we do.
Maybe my mother's food obsession was because she grew up during the Depression and her family was poor, even though they had a Southport address.
Whatever the reason, Mom always made sure we had three healthy meals every day and that we drank plenty of milk, and she treated us with something sweet, but only after we ate everything she put in front of us.
And when she wasn't cooking, she was searching for new ideas. She had stacks of recipes cut out of magazines and newspapers and numerous cookbooks. She liked to experiment.
When Mom wasn't shopping and cooking for us, she was doing so for others. She was the first to provide a full homemade meal to someone in need. And if she wasn't personally delivering those meals, she was asking someone over for dinner.
After she died, it was only fitting that we asked for memorial donations to be made to the Connecticut Food Bank. It was Mom's favorite charity, and she looked forward to the note of thanks she received each year after she donated from Nancy Carrington, president and CEO of the food bank.
Mom knew long before the rest of us that too many people are food challenged. Maybe it was those early years of her childhood when she had to share a plate of food with her sister.
Whatever the reason, Mom did the right thing. And you can too.
In conjunction with the Fairfield's 375th birthday celebration this year, a townwide food drive will be conducted this weekend, April 26 and 27, at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.
The food drive committee, led by Probate Judge Dan Caruso and Fire Chief Richard Felner, writes on its website, ffldfooddrive375.org, "For many in our community, food pantries help make ends meet, removing the choice between paying rent or putting food on the table. Our goal is to ensure that those food sources remain available and nearby, for those in Fairfield and our neighboring communities. Not only will we be collecting items to stock our local food pantries, we will also be taking in foodstuffs and various sundry and toiletry items to be sent to our brave local men and women defending our freedom overseas."
Four charities will benefit from the generosity of Fairfielders: Operation Hope, the Thomas Merton House, the Bridgeport Rescue Mission and A Project from the Heart.
There are three ways to help: donate food or money or volunteer.
Non-perishable food items will be accepted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at FLHS. Gift cards to Stop & Shop, ShopRite and Whole Foods also are being accepted. And donors can drop off foodstuffs at numerous collection sites around town.
To make a financial donation, visit the food drive's website for instructions. And volunteering for either day is easy and can be done through the website. I signed up to help out on Saturday afternoon. Volunteering is nothing new to me as I've given my time to Operation Hope on numerous occasions.
"The Great Anniversary Food Challenge," as it's termed on the website, is an opportunity to give back while the town celebrates its remarkable and rich history. Caruso is quoted on the website as saying, "We are blessed in our community because we are a giving community. It is part of who and what we are."
Further, the following statement rings so true about our community: "Since its settlement in 1639, Fairfield has been a prosperous community, demonstrated more by the character of its people than a richness of location, or material resources. That quality is never more evident than when Fairfield turns its generous nature towards our neighbors in need."
I've tried to follow in my mother's footsteps. Now I hope my fellow Fairfielders will do the same. Let's all make my mother proud.
Patricia A. Hines is a Fairfield writer, and her "Hines Sight" appears every other Friday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.