Sacred Heart University students realized the culmination of their months-long Turkey Drive fundraising efforts, achieving the goal of distributing 700 complete turkey dinners to local families in need. The students visited two Bridgeport parishes on Tuesday morning, Nov. 21. Four hundred dinners were distributed at St. Charles Borromeo Parish Roman Catholic Church and 300 were given away at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church. Distribution was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Volunteer Programs & Service Learning, Student Government, CrossFit and members of the basketball, wrestling and lacrosse teams. SHU has been partnering in this way for the past seven years, since St. Charles\u2019 Sister Ann Moles collaborated with Arlete Carmona, SHU\u2019s office and program manager for Volunteer Programs. \u201cI would not have been able to do this without Sacred Heart,\u201d Sister Ann commented. \u201cYesterday I had the most wonderful help \u2014 it was a miracle,\u201d she added, with regard to the assistance she received from SHU volunteers (members of the basketball and wrestling teams) who oversaw the delivery, unloading, assembly and storage of all of the supplies in advance of today\u2019s distribution. The athletes provided the same assistance at Blessed Sacrament, to Sister Ann\u2019s counterpart there, Father Skip Karcinski. Sister Ann had been conducting the food distribution from St. Charles on her own since 1980. The collaboration with SHU \u2014 which has piggybacked the effort \u2014 has greatly expanded the community outreach St. Charles and Blessed Sacrament can offer. SHU, in fact, supplies a full quarter of the meals for the 1,500 families St. Charles serves at Thanksgiving. SHU\u2019s Turkey Drive is sponsored by the Student Government, led by Student President Taryn McCormick and facilitated by Student Committee heads Samantha Pignatelli, SG senior class president and Sarah Kosha, SG junior class president. \u201cWe exceeded our goals by raising about $12,000 this year,\u201d said Samantha, which gave the school the ability to purchase from a local Price Rite one turkey and a bag of nonperishable sides for each of 700 families that were chosen by the churches through a pseudo-lottery system. To date, including this year, SHU has provided complete turkey dinners to 4,760 families. The funds were amassed through both online donations, volunteer-run collections outside of supermarkets, table set-ups at the school and dedicated fundraisers at Fairfield\u2019s 16 Handles, Bridgeport\u2019s Chipotle and Trumbull\u2019s Panera Bread restaurants. \u00a0 In addition to distributing the holiday meals, SHU Dining also provided free cups of hot chocolate from The Kitchen Truck that was parked onsite for the morning.\u00a0 Among the crowd was Angel Reyes, both a holiday meal receiver and site volunteer, who said, \u201cIt makes me feel like a better person to witness the gratitude people have. And I get to have fun and engage with people. That smile they give you when they receive their turkey speaks thousands. The effort aligns perfectly with SHU\u2019s overall mission of service and, for participating students, like Pignatelli, offered a \u201ctime of reflection\u201d and was \u201chumbling.\u201d Like many of her classmates, Samantha considered herself lucky to be able to go home to turkey on the table, when less fortunate families might be going without. Sarah Kosha suggested that the outreach and student enthusiasm separates SHU from other institutions. \u201cIt\u2019s amazing to see. All these students could have gone home, but they chose to stay here. They want to help other people,\u201d she said. Annie Wendel, SHU\u2019s new assistant director of Volunteer Programs, who was helping oversee the distribution process at St. Charles, echoed Kosha\u2019s observation. \u201cI\u2019m very impressed with the spirit of our volunteers and commitment to our programs. Our office does a nice job of involving students on campus and in the community,\u201d she said.