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Despite COVID, groups again gift Thanksgiving dinners to families in need--including pets

Charitable groups distribute turkeys, coats, and pet food to those in need in Hartford and New Haven.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Ahead of Thanksgiving, families in New Haven and Hartford were gifted with everything they will need for the holiday.

In New Haven, the 8th annual "Day of Joy" event was held in a different manner than years before. Instead of hosting families inside for a Thanksgiving meal, pastor Brenda Adkins of His Divine Will Fellowship Church held a drive-through version of her event.

"They're getting toys, they're getting groceries, they're getting personal care items, soap, deodorant, they're getting coats. We even have coats for adults this year," she said.

With the pandemic, came financial troubles which trickled down to this event, which depends on donations.

"A lot of organizations that helped us last year, couldn't help this year so our budget was really, really, cut down a lot but we're still making it happen," said Adkins.

They made it happen in a big way. With the help of the Knights of Columbus, they were still able to send about 500 New Haven families home with enough food for the holiday.

In Hartford, a donation event included something for the whole family, including our furry friends who got food and new toys.

"People are out of jobs, out of work, and they're struggling themselves to feed their families and the pets sometimes you know come in second, and so we're trying to make sure that everyone is being taken care of," said Dan McCabe, president of Dog Star Rescue.

"I don't think a lot of people realize that a lot of these animals are going hungry as well as the families," said Marty Smith, a volunteer.

A collaboration between Dog Star Rescue and local businesses helped dozens of families served by the Community Renewal Team with that need. During what has been an incredibly difficult year for so many, the help feels even more significant.

"They have to decide whether or not they're going to pay rent, or pay an electric bill, or buy a turkey," said Tenesha Grant, director of Women's Services of CRT.

Now, these families won't have to worry about that decision.

"Thank you for coming out to the city of Hartford and helping us out with the food for Thanksgiving," said Zina Brathwaite of Hartford.