BRISTOL – Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu is hoping voters will help the less fortunate with donations on Election Day.
The mayor is asking that people bring a canned good item to the polls on Nov. 6, or donate their pocket change, to the St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Bristol.
The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. that day. Donations are completely optional and are not required to vote.
St. Vincent DePaul does not have sufficient funding to operate its Winter Overflow Shelter from Dec. 1 through March 1, particularly on those nights that the governor announces that the Extreme Cold Weather Protocol is in effect. Last year, more than 1,800 households in central Connecticut called 2-1-1 seeking emergency shelter or housing support during this same time period, according to Zoppo-Sassu.
She noted that over the summer the city also saw a reduction in the number of soup kitchens when the Christian Fellowship Center closed its kitchen on Prospect Street, increasing the demand at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran and Salvation Army soup kitchens, as well as at the Brian’s Angels and Agape House drop-in centers.
The mayor and the city council have been working with the various social service agencies since the summer to ensure that needs are met.
“The city has created a response to this and is using the first week of November to raise awareness and provide a means for local residents to donate,” Zoppo-Sassu said.
“There will be barrels donated by the Bristol Post Office for food donations and a secure container in which cash or check donations made payable to St. Vincent DePaul may be placed,” she said. “Volunteers will monitor the barrels throughout the day and bring items to the United Way for eventual disbursement to the local soup kitchens and food pantries.”
Councilman Josh Medeiros, liaison to the city’s Youth & Community Services Department, said that “We have also enlisted the support of the United Way, as well as high school volunteers, various PTAs and Bristol Girl Scout Troops, who are selling cookies at various polling places to help us at the schools.”
The overall theme to get Bristol residents involved in solving this community issue this winter is “Stock Our Shelters.”
“We have 35,000 registered voters in Bristol,” said Democratic Registrar Kevin McCauley. “If we have an above 50 percent turnout and everyone donated $1 that would go a long way to funding the overnight shelter.”
Republican Registrar Sharon Krawiecki said she confirmed with the Secretary of the State’s office that this type of non-partisan activity is allowed.
“We want to be very clear that this is a voluntary activity and will not interfere with the voting activities or in any way disrupt that process. It should also be noted that a donation is NOT required to gain entry to the voting area,” Krawiecki said.
In addition to the Election Day activity, City Hall employees will conduct a Friday Dress Down fundraiser in November to benefit St. Vincent DePaul.
The United Way of West Central Connecticut is also conducting its Joy of Sharing Food Drive where canned goods and non-perishable food items may be dropped off on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 7-8, at its offices, 440 North Main St., Suite D.
The Knights of Columbus will hold their “Operation We Can” 24 Hour Marathon canned good collection drive from on Friday, Nov. 9, to on , at St. Gregory the Great Church CCD Center parking, at 1043 Stafford Ave.
All money collected will be designated to the Winter Overflow at St. Vincent DePaul. If additional funds are raised beyond that need, it will be distributed to the City of Bristol’s Department of Youth & Community Services, or gift cards and bus passes will be purchased, according to the statement from the mayor’s office.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.