Connecticut Local 1871 Feeds 90 Families for Thanksgiving

Left to right, IAM Local Lodge 1871 President Pat Buzzee, wife Julia Buzzee, Retiree and past Local 1871 President Michael “Snuffy” Smith, and Local 1871 Vice President Jim Underhill inventory turkeys for the 23rd Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Drive at the Local 1871 Food Pantry.

IAM Local 1871 in Groton, CT, completed its 23rd year of providing Thanksgiving baskets for out-of-work members and needy families in the community, and, in what has also become a tradition, they broke last years record.

Volunteers distributed dinner to more than 90 families.

“It’s a mixed blessing,” said Local 1871 President Pat Buzzee. “I’m thankful we had the ability to help that many families, but it’s also a sign that a lot more people are struggling to make it, and this is what the labor movement should be doing. Union members everywhere can do exactly what we are doing here and we need to do more.”

Thanksgiving dinner baskets await distribution at the IAM Local 1871 Food Pantry in Groton, CT.

The baskets included completed Thanksgiving dinners and were supplied at no cost to working families that might not otherwise enjoy a traditional holiday dinner in the current economy.

“Everything from the pie to the pan,” said Local 1871 Vice President Jim Underhill. “While we’ve always made an effort to make sure we provide a complete dinner, a few years ago we discovered many families needed a method to cook the turkeys. We went to work and now every family gets an aluminum roaster made in the USA to cook the turkey in.”

IAM members and others working at Electric Boat in Groton, as well as other union members including the Metal Trades Council and Marine Draftsmen’s Association/United Autoworkers make the baskets possible through donations. The effort has grown to also include many community businesses.

“The idea grew out of the food pantry that began in a garage during a strike in 1988,” said Buzzee. “Now the Gemma Moran United Way Labor Food Center is the only continually-operating food pantry in the country founded and run by union members. Jim’s dedication week in, week out makes this possible and successful.”

“Thanks to the dedication of members like Jim Underhill, retired Local President Michael ‘Snuffy’ Smith, President Pat Buzzee and wife Julia, families that might not have the traditional holiday meal get to share not only the necessities, but things they might not otherwise have during these tough times,” said IAM District 26 Directing Business Representative Everett Corey. “They have truly made this a labor of love and in the true IAM spirit of ‘Service to the Community.’”

The food pantry plans to provide Christmas dinners, although likely to fewer families. If you’d like to donate to the effort, contact Local 1871 Secretary-Treasurer Jon Papski at 860-445-8619. Donations in the form of a check can be made out to IAM Local 1871 with “Turkey Drive” in the memo line. Please send all donations to:

IAM Local Lodge 1871
Attn: Secretary-Treasurer Jon Papski
18 Pleasant St.
Groton, CT 06340