Exuberant Compassion -- Gala Raises Funds to Feed Kids
On September 19, 2019, before the Inaugural Milford Food 2 Kids Gala, gala committee members and volunteers floated among the tables in the Great River Golf Course Banquet Hall. They adjusted table signs beside floral center pieces, donated by Dillion's Florist; straightened bid sheets in front of auction items; arranged donations for the Ticket in a Bag activity and unfurled signs thanking sponsors.
The gala drew Sponsors, Donors and Volunteers, including a broad representation of community business people, church-goers, civic organization members, officials and educators.
Gala co-chairs Katie Atkinson Dineson and Kristine Rodriguez opened the night with a warm welcome and appreciation for all who made the event possible. The Reverend Adam Eckhart, Senior Pastor of The First United Church of Christ, Milford, offered a blessing, and then Reverend Ashley Grant and Michele Steinlauf took the podium.
Grant brought to light food insecurity among kids in Milford and Milford Food 2 Kids' resolve to feed kids. Grant described their process and hands-on approach to feeding kids, which relies on volunteers like Tom O'Donnell, Lloyd Jacobs, Sandy Jaynes and hundreds of others, including the caring school communities in town.
The program impacts specific community members. Steinlauf shared a letter from a family in town who faces the ongoing challenge of choosing between rent and buying groceries. For that family, the food deliveries have truly made a difference. Steinlauf then explained how the generosity and compassion of the Milford community and supporters have inspired Milford Food 2 Kids to share their model with other communities. The FSP Foundation of the PFP Services, Inc. (the Gala's Title Sponsor) supported this initiative.
Vince Caggiano from The Food For Hope Program in Waterbury, CT shared how they were inspired by Milford Food 2 Kids and now serve 130 children in their neighboring school. Other program leaders and those discerning food assistance programs in West Haven, Stratford and Goshen attended the gala as part of the share the model initiative.
When it comes to food insecurity among children, "we have 2 choices," said Grant. "Let it happen, or feed them. We have made our choice. We will feed them."
Senator James Maroney presented Milford Food 2 Kids with an Official Citation from the State of Connecticut, and Mayor Ben Blake issued a Proclamation from the City of Milford.
Choose to act came across loud and clear.
Auctioneer Dave Raffauf transitioned the evening to the Live Auction. Raffauf's instinct led to a call for "Who will sponsor a kid for a year?" Bidder numbers raised up one after another. The exuberant compassion among those gathered left Grant and Steinlauf speechless.
The rest of the evening spilled over with celebration and gratitude, especially from the Gala Committee: Katie Atkinson Dineson, Carolyn Augur, Nicole Carrasco, Rob Fucci, Heather Pastir, Pat Raffauf, Kristine Rodriguez, Nikki Wayne and Missy Whiting.
Once all the tallies were made and prizes distributed, the Gala effort raised over $50,000.
Milford Food 2 Kids extends their appreciation to the generous Sponsors, Donors and Volunteers who contributed to the event, which will ensure that kids will be fed.
Milford Food 2 Kids
34 West Main Street
Milford, CT 06460
Milford Food 2 Kids is an initiative of the First United Church of Christ, Milford, in collaboration with CT Food Bank, to attend to the needs of local children who have little or no food during the weekend away from school.