Shelton family continues Thanksgiving food drive tradition

SHELTON — Dr. Bruce Sofferman is driven to aid those suffering from food insecurity. 

Sofferman, owner of Smile Dental Center, has turned a simple food drive — started in the mid-1980s — into a tradition, not only for his family but the hundreds of area residents who donate frozen turkeys and non-perishable food items to support Spooner House’s Operation Holiday initiative. 

“I just want to be a spark,” said Sofferman, adding that this year’s collection is Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of his office at 1000 Bridgeport Ave. 

Sofferman, his wife, Deborah, and daughter Sophia, always take their annual food drive to the next level, dressing in traditional Thanksgiving apparel. And the family even has quite an enthusiastic turkey, also known as Brendan Carey, with them as they collect the food and monetary donations for Spooner House. 

“There are so many people suffering from food insecurity in Connecticut … and the killer for me is that so many are children,” Sofferman said. “Even in a state as wealthy as Connecticut, there is still a need for food assistance in every community.” 

Sofferman said with inflation and job insecurity, the need is greater than ever. 

“There are people who have to make a choice between buying food and paying rent, or paying medical bills or utility bills,” he said. “I’m hoping with what we do, we can help remind people how important it is to donate … to help.” 

Sofferman said when he first donned the pilgrim suit and went out to collect food for those in need, he was the only one in town making such an effort. In the decades since, Sofferman said he is pleased that others have joined the cause. This year there are more than a dozen collection sites spread throughout the city. 

Susan Compton Agamy, executive director at Spooner House, praised the Soffermans’ efforts and called the food drive a critical part of the organization’s holiday efforts for 36 years. 

“Not only does it bring in food donations that are essential for our holiday meal distribution, but Dr. Sofferman’s and his family’s commitment to the effort by donning costumes each year and standing outside to greet donors raises awareness of the need and shines a spotlight on the work we do to meet that need,” Agamy said. 

This year, Sofferman is also hosting a “Gobble and Give” dinner and silent auction on Nov. 15, with all proceeds going to Spooner House. This event is open to all, Sofferman says, and will run from 5 to 8 p.m. at his dental office. 

Agamy praised Sofferman for launching an online giving option through the Spooner House Facebook page and expanded the effort to include a special dinner and silent auction the evening before the actual drive.  

“This year the need is even greater due to the skyrocketing food prices and overall cost of living,” she said. “People are faced with even tougher decisions about what bills they can pay – utilities, food, medication, even housing. 

“With the cold weather right around the corner and the high cost of energy for heat, we expect more people to grapple with food insecurity,” she added. 

Agamy said that over this past year, Spooner House has seen an increase of 20 percent in the number of households seeking assistance, and an increase of 50 percent in the number of people served. 

“This reveals the harsh reality of people doubling up with family and friends because they cannot afford housing on their own as rents have increased significantly,” Agamy said. 

Donations in the form of checks can also be made, payable to “Spooner House,” during the Thanksgiving Turkey Drive at Smile Dental Center. Or mail a check directly to Spooner House at 30 Todd Road, Shelton, CT. 06484. Donations will also be accepted through PayPal at

For information on other giving opportunities, contact Spooner House at 203-225-0453 x100. 

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

 

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