MERIDEN — The South Meriden Neighborhood Association continued its 19 year tradition of collecting turkeys and toys to donate this holiday season.
Stationed at the South Meriden Volunteer Fire Department, Holly Wills, president of the association, and volunteer firefighters accepted turkey and toy donations from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The turkeys are donated to the Meriden YMCA for the annual holiday dinner and the toys are donated to Spirit of Giving, Hunter’s Ambulance’s not-for-profit organization.
“It’s very successful,” Wills said. “Last year we collected 192 turkeys.”
This year the YMCA will not be holding the sit down dinner or delivering dinners. Instead, meals will be prepared and ready for pickup at 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving day while supplies last.
Spirit of Giving was established to lend help to members of the Meriden community who are in need. Volunteers collecting donations, like the South Meriden Neighborhood Association and SMVFD, are what helps make the organization successful.
“It’s very important because there are people that are always in need,” Wills said. “We are very grateful of the donations we get and how supportive the people are.”
By 12:30 p.m. almost 20 cars had stopped by with various toys and turkeys. Children and adults from Meriden Christadelphian Ecclesia gathered and walked to the fire station to bring bags and boxes of toys.
Jim Cournoyer, former chief of the SMVFD, attends every year with his sons.
“We try to do what we can to give to the less fortunate,” Cournoyer said. “It’s a good thing, especially now.”
Cournoyer, who is also the CEO of Data-Link Corporation in South Meriden, said the local businesses recently gathered to decorate Main Street with wreaths even though there will not be a Christmas in the Village this year.
“We wanted to at least keep a little bit of spirit, so all the businesses got together and said let’s just do it,” Cournoyer said.
The turkeys collected were kept in a cooler and after only an hour the small table and the area around it used to display the toys was filled with dolls, board games, stuffed animals and more.
“This was quite the event,” Wills said. “The best year for toys.”