For Shelton dentist, Thanksgiving food drive is a four-decade tradition

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Dr. Bruce Sofferman held his first Thanksgiving food drive in the mid-1980s to generate awareness about aiding those suffering from food insecurity.

Nearly four decades years later, the drive, held in front of his dental office at 1000 Bridgeport Ave., has become a Thanksgiving tradition, and not just for the Sofferman Family. Dozens of area residents return every year to donate frozen turkeys and and non-perishable food items to support Spooner House’s Operation Holiday initiative.

“This is as good as it gets,” Sofferman said Wednesday as he watched vehicles begin to line up to donate even before the drive’s 10 a.m. scheduled start time.

“It makes me feel so good to help . It’s a great thing,” he added.

Sofferman, his wife, Deborah, and daughter Sophia, take their annual food drive to the next level, dressing in traditional Thanksgiving apparel. And the family even has quite an enthusiastic turkey, also known as Brendan Carey, with them as they collect the food and monetary donations for Spooner House.

Last year, the family’s collection helped feed some 800 families, but Sophia says this year, the need to aid those suffering food insecurity is more defined.

“The need is greater than ever,” Sophia said. “The message here is to create awareness . That was always the goal. My father wanted to ignite that spark in people to donate. I feel that we have worked to make that happen.”

Sofferman said when he first donned the pilgrim suit and went out to collect food for those in need, he was the only game in town. In the decades since, Sofferman said he is pleased that others have joined the cause. This year there are more than a dozen collection sites spread throughout the city.

"We don’t care where people donate. It could be here, or maybe they drive by, can’t stop. But seeing us and what is happening here makes them remember to donate later. That’s the goal,” Sophia said.

This year’s food drive, like the one held in 2020, was contactless, with people pulling into the Smile Dental circular driveway with masks on. The donations were collected right from their cars.

“I donate every year,” Dorene Meyer, one of the first in line to donate food, said. “It feels really good to be able to give back.”

Donations in the form of checks can also be made, payable to “Spooner House,” during the Thanksgiving Turkey Drive at Smile Dental Center. Or mail a check directly to Spooner House at 30 Todd Road, Shelton, CT. 06484. Donations will also be accepted through PayPal at http://www.actspooner.org/.

For information on other giving opportunities, contact Spooner House at 203-225-0453 x100.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com