Trumbull nonprofit donates 900 gift cards to school workers

TRUMBULL — A local non-profit agency has a message for every school worker in town: Lunch is on us.

“We want them to know we’re behind them,” said Jennifer Record, president of the group ImpacTrumbull, which recently ended its Making Gratitude Contagious program of buying gift cards to local restaurants for every school worker in town.

“Every teacher, every lunch worker, every custodian, every school bus driver. That’s what Trumbull is about,” Record said.

Record delivered more than 900 gift cards to local schools April 18. Trumbull High Principal Marc Guarino said it was gratifying to see school staff recognized by the community.

“We try to show our gratitude every day, but when the community recognizes them, it really shows them how much support they have,” he said.

Guarino said recognizing the non-teaching staff for their efforts was especially appreciated.

“This has been such a challenging year, and everyone has had to reinvent themselves,” he said. “Everyone has pitched in. I was just inside helping clean tables. The paraprofessionals have been helping cover substitutes. It’s amazing to see how we’ve changed and evolved and how far we’ve come this year.”

The idea of distributing restaurant gift cards began last year, when ImpacTrumbull raised $6,500 in individual donations and purchased gift cards they gave to the town’s emergency responders and social service workers.

This year’s project was more ambitious. Working with the town’s Department of Economic and Community Development, Record asked for similar community support.

“We reached out to banks and foundations with the idea that we would be supporting our educators while also supporting our local business community,” Record said.

The Residences at Main, the DiNardo-Aiello Family Fund, Woodside Trumbull, Ten Trumbull, Newtown Savings Bank and the Mustard Seed Foundation agreed to sponsor the program, donating more than $20,000 combined.

“Then, we reached out to every school staff member, asking them what restaurant they would like a gift card for,” Record said. “More than 900 of them responded, and we bought gift cards from all 26 restaurants in town.”

Record said 105 of the recipients opted to donate their gift cards to the Trumbull Food Pantry for a total $2,100 donation to local families in need.

The program also supported Trumbull’s four private schools, sponsoring a catered staff lunch at each school.

In addition to donating meals to emergency responders and school staff, Record said ImpacTrumbull has completed 120 projects and collections since its founding in 2012. Other projects have included backpack and school supply drives and donating nearly 1,500 “care caddies” of toiletries and other supplies to local shelters.

Planned projects include making improvements to the gardens and porch at Bridgeport’s Caroline House and stitching and donating 100 fleece blankets to Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital.

Guarino said the donation “meant everything” to the staff.

“In a typical year, support from the community means everything to us. But this year, this is what’s going to take us over the finish line,” he said.

deng@trumbulltimes.com