Connecticut Local Delivers Thanksgiving for Needy Families

11 24 2015 1871Thanksgiving

IAM Local 1871 members marked their 25th year of providing Thanksgiving dinners to needy families in the Groton, CT area. From left: Rick Ravenelle, Steward; Jon Papski, Secretary-Treasurer; Snuffy Smith, Retired President; Andy Miller, Recording Secretary; and Jim Underhill, Vice President.

A food pantry run by IAM Local 1871 in Groton, CT, marks its 25th year of providing Thanksgiving baskets for out-of-work members, needy families and others in the community.

Volunteers hope to distribute baskets to nearly 150 families. Each basket includes a complete Thanksgiving dinner, supplied at no cost to working families who might not otherwise enjoy a traditional holiday dinner in the current economy.

The pantry, known as the Local 1871 Gemma Moran United Way Labor Food Center, is the only continually-operating food pantry in the country founded and run by union members. The idea grew out of a garage food pantry that began during a strike in 1988.

“I’m extremely proud we continue to be able to help as many families as we have for all these years,” said Local 1871 Vice President Jim Underhill. “Our success is thanks to all the IAM members and others working at Electric Boat here in Groton. We collected more money that we ever have at the gates this year to support the effort.”

Local 1871 prides itself on providing everything for a traditional dinner, making sure a complete dinner is provided, right down to the “Made in the USA” aluminum roaster pan to cook the turkey. Underhill heads up the drive with other volunteers from the local, taking in the donations, stocking shelves and assembling the baskets.

IAM members and others working at Electric Boat in Groton, as well as 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.

“This is truly a labor of love for Jim,” said Local 1871 President Pat Buzzee. “His dedication to the effort, week in and week out, makes this possible and successful. Because of Jim and all of the volunteers, a lot of families that might not have the traditional holiday meal get to share not only the necessities, but things they might not have been able to enjoy this year.”

“IAM District 26 IAM members from across Connecticut and Rhode Island support this effort, and many others throughout the year,” said IAM District 26 Directing Business Representative Everett Corey. “Union members everywhere do exactly what these volunteers are doing here and we need to do even more. My thanks and appreciation go out to each of them.”