Trumbull light display raises money for those in need

TRUMBULL — Zoltan Szabo has loved Christmas lights ever since he was a kid growing up in Fairfield. Lights, he said, bring warmth and joy to places that might be lacking it.

Now a Trumbull resident, Szabo — like so many others — noticed a pall hanging over the holiday season last year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people couldn’t spend festive times with their loved ones. They couldn’t engage in many of the fun activities they enjoyed.

So Szabo decided to gather fellow residents of his Sterling Road neighborhood to arrange a festive light display. “Last year, everybody was down,” he said. “This bought some happiness to the town.”

About 18 families ended up participating, and it was such a hit that people started complaining to Szabo that their homes weren’t included. “People came up and said ‘Why didn’t you ask me?’” he said.

As a result Szabo, started enlisting neighbors to participate in the light display in late summer, and roughly 60 houses on and around Sterling Road will take part this year. But, this season’s display isn’t just about bringing joy through illumination — it’s also about helping others.

Szabo and others in the area are using the display to raise money for Trumbull Social Services, which includes the food bank and other programs that offer assistance to those in need. Throughout the neighborhood, signs will be posted with a QR code that people can use to access a GoFundMe page to donate to social services.

Neighborhood resident Joe McDonald pitched the idea of making the light display a fundraiser, and eventually he, Szabo and other neighbors decided Trumbull Social Services would be a good cause.

“We tossed around some different charity ideas outside of Trumbull,” McDonald said. “Then we decided on something that people in town could rally around.”

The project’s GoFundMe page lists $2,000 as its fundraising goal. The money would make a big difference to Trumbull Social Services and the families it serves, said Michele Jakab, the town’s director of human services, of which social services is a part. She said the past year and a half has been hard on a lot of local families.

“We have people coming to our food pantry that had never been to a food pantry before,” Jakab said.

There have also been people seeking help for the first time for such necessities as rent and utility payments. Jakab said the department even helped one family continue to pay for counseling services for their child who was on the autism spectrum.

Given how much need is out there, she said, she’s moved that the Sterling Road neighborhood is looking to help out.

“Trumbull has always been a very generous and supportive town,” Jakab said. “I think it’s a great thing that they’re doing. And who doesn’t want to go and drive by and see holiday lights?”

Access to the light display can be found using 196 Sterling Road as a central GPS point and entering off of Walker Road, Wood Avenue or Lake Avenue and following the lights from there. For more information, visit the GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/sterlingchristmas.