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Bristol Health's WIC program distributes Thanksgiving meals to 180 families

By The Bristol Press

November 21, 2019

BRISTOL - About 180 local families will have a Thanksgiving meal next Thursday thanks to generous donations made by Bristol Health’s medical staff and the hard work of the staff at the hospital’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

“This is tops,” Sandy Pesino, program assistant at WIC, said when asked where the Thanksgiving meal donations fell on the spectrum of most rewarding things the staff does throughout the year for local families. “Every year, this is the most exciting thing for us.”

Staff at WIC - which has temporarily been relocated from Prospect Street to the building across the street at 222 Main St. - were busy Thursday afternoon packaging food bags full of nonperishable items such as vegetables, stuffing ingredients, gravy, pie mixes and marshmallows. The bags also had $20 gift cards inside to be used at Stop & Shop to buy a turkey.

The bags were all packed Thursday and distributed the same day to 180 local families that otherwise may not have been able to have a Thanksgiving meal.

“They’re very grateful, very appreciative,” said Melissa Dickau, program director at the Women, Infants and Children program.

“They get so moved by it,” Pesino said, adding that some people even shed tears. “That’s what makes it worth it.”

Dickau said many people come in for the food bags as a family.

“It’s really a family event,” she said.

The food bags are made possible by donations from the Bristol Health medical staff - which collectively raised about $8,500 this year. This is the 29th year WIC has distributed the bags to needy families.

“We do all the work, but without the doctor’s providing all the money we wouldn’t be able to do this,” Pesino said. “This really shows what the hospital stands for.”

Betsy Laboy, program assistant at WIC, added, “I think it’s great for the community. I wish more hospitals did it.”

“This is something very unique to Bristol Hospital,” Dickau said. “I don’t know if other WIC programs do this.”