Trumbull nonprofit agency’s gift card drive has a double impact

TRUMBULL — A local drive to help Trumbull businesses and emergency responders has succeeded beyond the hopes of its organizers.

More than 200 people have donated a combined $5,500 to an online gift card drive, organized by the local nonprofit agency ImpacTrumbull.

“The board was thinking, ‘What can we do?’ and we thought we could do a gift card drive,” said ImpacTrumbull President Jenn Record. “We put the idea out on social media, thinking that if everyone could just give $5, it would add up pretty quickly.”

The group planned to use the donations to purchase gift cards to local restaurants, then donate the cards to Trumbull emergency responders and local hospitals. That way the effort would help local businesses and serve as a thank you to those protecting the community’s health, she said.

The donation drive quickly took off on social media and within four days the group received more than $1,900 in donations.

“We posted a photo of the gift cards we bought, and that generated more donations,” Record said. “We’ve had people donating $50, $100, even $500. People are donating the money they normally would be spending on their daily coffee order. And every time we post a photo of the latest gift cards, we get more donations.”

To minimize social contact, the donations are accepted through Paypal and Venmo. The gift cards are purchased over the phone and delivered to mailboxes. Some restaurants like Vazzy’s, J Bagels and Trumbull Pizza Company also donated cards, or matched donations. The cards have been donated to St. Vincent’s and Bridgeport hospitals’ emergency room staff, the Trumbull Police Department, all three Trumbull fire departments, Trumbull EMS, and Trumbull Social Services.

Michele Jakab, the town’s director of human services, said the department was thankful for the donations.

“We gave them out to some of the homebound seniors that don’t have anyone to assist them,” Jakab said.

Other cards had gone to the Community Emergency Response Team volunteers who had been working to deliver meals and make shopping trips for those in need.

“It was a great way to say thank you to those team members who have been providing all these services,” she said. “It’s really scary out there, and they’re out delivering meals and bags of groceries, whatever people need.”