Fairfield: Residents to hold fourth drive in as many weeks

FAIRFIELD — A fourth drive in as many weeks will be held Sunday to collect gift cards and food for people in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a release from the organizers, the drive will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, April 4 and volunteers will be collecting gift cards to local grocery stores such as Stop & Shop and ShopRite. The drive will be at the First Church Congregational at 148 Beach Road.

“Food donations will also be accepted such as cereal, boxed milk, jelly, peanut butter, canned soup, stews and chili, toiletries and cleaning products,” the release said.

To adhere to social distancing guidelines, the release said people who want to donate gift cards can pull up and dispense grocery cards into bins. In addition, grocery carts are available on-site where people can place food donations. According to the release, volunteers on-site will be wearing gloves and taking safety precautions.

“All proceeds will go directly to the Operation Hope Food pantry which is volunteer-run and assists families in meeting their basic food needs and items that Food Stamps do not cover like diapers and toilet paper,” the release said.

The community food drive was created by three Fairfield women, Helene Daly, Heather Dubrowsky and Alexis Harrison in early March after they asked themselves how they could help their town during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the release.

Alexis Harrison said a quote from Thomas Merton underscores how she feels about the current challenges the community is facing. In part, it reads “We do not exist for ourselves alone.”

“We need to help one another — we need to be there for the stranger, our neighbors and friends during these hard times,” Harrison said. “Everyone is affected by COVID-19 whether it's a job loss, a company or business having to shut down or people suddenly finding themselves underemployed. It's a sad by-product of this terrible virus.”

Harrison said citizens have an opportunity to help collect donations and to create a venue for others to help. She said places like Operation Hope do a remarkable, year-round job of providing the necessities to people throughout the community — whether it is through case management, food, shelter and everything that most people take for granted.

“They are the better angels and if we can help them in a small way, then we will and we'll continue going forward,” Harrison said. “We know things will likely get worse in the coming weeks and so will the needs of places like Operation Hope, and that alone keeps us moving forward next week. Disease or no disease, people need to eat and they shouldn't have to worry where their next meal comes from.”

Helene Daly said Operation Hope works to give people hope.

“During times like this we are seeing even more people lose hope when they lose their jobs, their incomes and are unable to socialize with their friends and family,” Daly said. “It can be a lonely time for many especially when you don't know how you are going to feed your family. Operation Hope is there for those families as well as our seniors during this moment of social isolation. And we need to be there for Operation Hope.”

Carla Miklos, the director of Operation Hope, said the organization had received approximately 300 bags of food through the drive so far. She said the non-profit had seen an increase in the number of people requested food assistance.

“We realize that there are people who are out of work and trying to stretch limited or, maybe, negative incomes to cover the expenses to feed their families,” Miklos said. “So, we are pleased to be able to provide the food. But, we can’t do it without the help of our neighbors.”

Miklos said even though 300 bags of food is a lot, it will be given out very quickly. She said continued support is important in the long term.

People who wish to donate from home can do so by visiting https://operationhopect.org/donate/. To learn more about the drives, the visit the organizers facebook page. For more information, call (203) 556-2546 or email FFLDFoodDrive@outlook.com.