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Free Rides, Coats, Food Add Up To Happy Thanksgiving For Bridgeport Seniors

Patricia Carter of Bridgeport, right, received a free ride to Bridgeport Rescue MIssion's Great ThanksGiving Project Monday.
Patricia Carter of Bridgeport, right, received a free ride to Bridgeport Rescue MIssion's Great ThanksGiving Project Monday. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Guests browse for winter coats at the Bridgeport Rescue Mission's Great ThanksGiving Project.
Guests browse for winter coats at the Bridgeport Rescue Mission's Great ThanksGiving Project. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
A guest, left, prays with a volunteer at Bridgeport Rescue Mission's Great ThanksGiving Project.
A guest, left, prays with a volunteer at Bridgeport Rescue Mission's Great ThanksGiving Project. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Guests at Bridgeport Rescue Mission's 2015 Great ThanksGiving Project
Guests at Bridgeport Rescue Mission's 2015 Great ThanksGiving Project Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Mary Spain is happy to report she’ll have 10 guests around her Thanksgiving table.

But the longtime Bridgeport resident, who uses a wheelchair, wasn’t as happy with Monday’s weather.

“It cold outside,” said Spain, who lives in senior housing at the Eleanor Apartments. “It’s not as easy to get out.”

Enter Greater Bridgeport Transit District, which on Monday provided free rides for about 60 seniors to Webster Bank Arena to pick up turkeys and all the fixings for their holiday meals at the annual Great ThanksGiving Project.

It’s the seventh year Bridgeport Rescue Mission has hosted the massive event, offering free turkeys, food bags and even warm coats to about 2,500 families in the Bridgeport area.

About 500 more received food bags at Grace Baptist Church in South Norwalk, said Linda Casey, who is in charge of programs and strategic development for the Rescue Mission which serves Fairfield County.

“We bring the love of God to the homeless, hungry and addicted,” Casey said.

The group expected to give away 15,000 coats for men, women and children at the Bridgeport location.

The effort takes the help of 30 to 60 volunteers each day for a week. On Monday, Elizabeth Kontomerkos of Fairfield, a senior vice president at Bank of America, was among those helping guests find suitable coats.

“Bank of America and our employees support working to be part of the community,” she said. “The success of the bank translates to the success of the community. We’re always giving back.”

Patricia Carter, another Eleanor Apartments resident, said she didn’t need any food on Monday. Her children were not going to be with her for the holiday. But she was looking forward to her turn to look at coats.

“I’m going to be by myself on Thanksgiving,” she said, “but I do need a warm winter coat.”

The Rescue Mission and Greater Bridgeport Transit teamed with Park City Communities to make the free rides for seniors possible. Residents of Fireside Apartments were scheduled to receive rides Tuesday.

“We are blessed to have compassionate community partners who are willing to step up in a time of need and work together to make sure no one goes hungry this Thanksgiving,” said Rescue Mission Executive Director Terry Wilcox.

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