Westfield – For the fourth year, Ralph and Sue Figy are helping to coordinate a Thanksgiving Food Drive at Westfield Technical Academy for students and their families in need from all the Westfield Public Schools. The one day food drive will be held on Monday, November 20 from 6 a.m. to 12 noon at Tiger’s Pride.
WSKB 89.5 will be broadcasting live from the Tiger’s Pride for the duration. On-air hosts include George Delisle, Michael ‘Buster’ McMahon, Patrick Berry, Ken Stomski, Tina Gorman, Bob Plasse, Jay Pagluica and of course Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski, who is coordinating the drive with the Westfield Food Pantry and the WTA crew, Joe Langone & Rob Ollari.
People are asked to bring donations in through the Tiger’s Pride/Gymnasium door during the morning. Canned goods needed include peas, corn, gravy, carrots, cranberry sauce, beans, tuna, peanut butter, pasta sauce and juice. Dry goods needed are stuffing, cake mix, dinner rolls, instant potatoes, rice, cereal, oatmeal, beans and noodles. Perishables requested are eggs, butter, turkey, carrots, potatoes and milk.
Ralph Figy said the food drive is a city-wide effort. Last year, the drive provided Thanksgiving meals to 117 families who were identified by district staff and teachers in all of the schools. This year, they have a list of 154 families.
The Figys, along with ten volunteers from the community and members of the WTA National Honor Society will set up stations “for all the fixings” immediately following the morning drive, and pack the meals for specific families according to size.
“The Westfield Food Pantry has always been wonderful, giving us 100 meals for families of four, which we are supplementing,” Sue Figy said. She said she has families as big as ten on the list. She said other donations already coming include 20 turkeys from Firtion Adams, vegetables from Caldwell Banker, and a pick up coming from North Elm Butcher Block. Other donors on the ever increasing list are Swaz potatoes, Rays Farm, Thrifty Car Sales and Party World. Big Y is also donating bags, Ralph Figy said.
The Future Business Leaders of America club at the school has also challenged all of the tech shops to a canned food drive contest. Whoever donates the most will win a pizza party for their shop, donated by the Figys.
Both Ralph and Sue asked people to please not clean out their pantries. Sue Figy said the volunteers have to look at the expiration dates on every item, and toss any that are expired.
After the meals are all packaged, they are delivered to the schools that requested them and given out to the families from there. Sue said some are delivered to the homes of people who can’t pick them up.
Gift cards to all the stores that carry the supplies, including Big Y, Pride Rite, Stop & Shop and Walmart are also welcome and needed, along with cash donations to supplement the meals with missing items. Last year, for example, they were short on mushroom soup and gravy, and had to buy those items. “People always forget the gravy,” Ralph Figy said.
The Food Drive is also taking donations of health and beauty items, including soap, deodorant, detergent, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes and feminine hygiene products, which are always needed at the pantries that operate throughout the year.
If anyone is not able to bring their donations on Nov. 20, the day of the drive, they can bring them to the WTA office during the week before, Ralph Figy said.
“It’s a fabulous event. People in this community are extremely giving. Sometimes you just have to tell them what you need,” said Sue Figy, adding, “People don’t have to give, I’m just glad they do.”
“The greater Westfield community has been very supportive and very generous in allowing us to do this,” Ralph Figy said. Czaporowski agreed, adding the Figys to the list. “I’m certainly appreciative of all their efforts,” he said. At-large City Councilor Ralph Figy, a retired school counselor and Sue Figy, a retired Westfield police officer also each mentor 20 students at WTA. “Keeps us young,” said Sue Figy.