Facing cancellation, doubled donations save free brunch for the less fortunate

Fairfield Daily Republic ©

FAIRFIELD - The community has spoken - Help Inc. will host a pre-Thanksgiving brunch Wednesday.

A smile that could light the darkest of nights filled Jerome Holiday by late Friday afternoon at the Fairfield Community Center as he said the financial donations received from community members totaled $5,000, more than double of what he asked to receive.

"It's love in action. The community spoke in a loud voice and said they wanted this to continue. They demonstrated the need to have us continue our annual brunch," he said as small beads of sweat spotted his forehead.

Just two days ago, only six days before Help Inc.'s annual pre-Thanksgiving meal for the community, Holiday had only received $200 to feed the 850 people expected to attend the scheduled brunch.

He asked the community for help, and the response - with overwhelming financial and food donations - left Holiday nearly speechless.

By day's end, Holiday and his wife, Rose Holiday, collected an average of $1,000 an hour in addition to more than 50 turkeys and a plethora of brown bags filled with dry and canned goods.

"This is truly a blessing," said Rose Holiday of the donations. "This will be a wonderful Thanksgiving."

As the couple and their two children occupied a corner of the community center, people walked in continuously, leaving little time for the automatic doors to fully close.

"There are so many people in need and those who are not working. But God has blessed us and has been so good to us that we are supposed to bless others," said Gladys M. Jett, who donated a check and a bag of goods. "I was worried that people wouldn't have anything to eat and that's sad."

For Joe Perdoni, who was making a financial donation together with his mother, the need to help others is paramount.

"They need help and we're pretty lucky," he said. "We want to make sure there is something for the less fortunate, for them to have a meal."

Students from Spectrum Center in Fairfield also made a trip to the center after one of their instructors, Mercedes Navarro, read a Daily Republic article on Holiday requesting help from the community.

"We do a 'current events' from the paper each day. After reading the article, I posted flyers all around the school asking for donations and the students brought these items in today," she said of the four bags and one box filled with food.

"This is our outing. Instead of doing something for us on Friday as we usually do, we did something for someone else," she added.

Holiday intends to make more than 850 meals for Wednesday and update kitchen equipment with the financial donations made on Friday. Whatever is left, he said, will be used for his annual Christmas drive of buying toys for children.

"This is bigger than me and it's because the word got out that this is happening," he said. "It's a blessing."