More than 200 clients and neighbors gathered in the CTWorks Career Center Lobby on Thursday to enjoy a special holiday meal prepared by Bullard-Havens culinary students.
The hungry guests enjoyed a dinner featuring traditional favorites served by Recruits from the Bridgeport Police Department Training Academy, Career Resources, Inc. (CRI) Board Members and State Representative Tony Hwang. The meal was co-sponsored by the WorkPlace, Inc. and the CT Department of Labor.
Reverend James Cook delivered the blessing over the meal and the gathered officials addressed the crowd after a moment of silence dedicated to the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook School.
“This meal is to thank you all for all your hard work all year,” CRI Executive Director Scott Wilderman said.
“This meal is a reminder that there is good, there is love out there,” State Representative Tony Hwang said, “And with the gift of toys, we can give children some innocence and joy to hold onto.”
Following the dinner was the distribution of the gifts from CRI’s 13th Annual Toy Drive. CRI has an intimate knowledge of the struggles of people who are unemployed during the holiday season. To aid their clients during this difficult time of year, CRI committed to make sure all of their clients’ children get a gift.
Donations and contributions came from multiple sources including the Police Academy, the Bridgeport Guardians, WICC, Starbucks on Black Rock Turnpike, Representative Hwang, Police Athletic League, the Department of Labor, the Sports Recycling Group, the City of Bridgeport and CRI staff and board members.
In a unique twist on the traditional toy giveaway, CRI seeks to empower their clients by giving them unwrapped toys that they can provide to their children themselves.
Families who chose to get the gifts that day went up the CRI offices to enjoy holiday music, eat candy canes and drink hot chocolate and meet Santa Claus.
CRI made a special effort to provide appropriate gifts to older children with special needs who are often overlooked at this time of year.
“Community Service is part of what we do,” said Police Recruit Cody Remy. “But the best is seeing the faces of the kids when they get their gifts.”
Shay was particularly thrilled when he saw the bicycle and helmet CRI gave him, “This is the greatest present ever!”