SOUTHINGTON — State Rep. Rob Sampson and Sen. Joe Markley on Monday helped raise more than $12,000 to help feed local families in need. Sampson and Markley teamed with the Salvation Army, which gave the legislators the responsibility of running one of their iconic red collection kettle outside of the Wal-Mart store on Queen Street. Shortly after their hour-long shift started, local firefighters pulled up in an engine and dumped a manila envelope full of money into the pot. Life for the legislators got busy after that. They collected more than $9,000 in checks and more than $3,000 in bills and coins. Even better, Wal-Mart officials have pledged to match dollar-for-dollar the $12,285 Sampson and Markley collected during their hour. Salvation Army will turn over the money to Southington Community Services. Janet Mellon, that agency’s director, said the money will go toward filling shelves in its food pantry. Her office provides 1,600 food bags each month to more than 600 local families.
“This is a miracle, a miracle just before Christmas,” said Mellon, who explained that donations to her agency were slumping. “This never would have happened if Rob, Joe and the Salvation Army didn’t get together and decide to do this.”
With more than $24,000 on they way, the hour of volunteerism and generosity proved to be the biggest-ever fundraiser for Southington Community Services.
“I’m blown away by the total amount of money we collected, but not surprised by the generosity of people here in Southington,” said Sampson, who represents the 80th General Assembly District. “I love to see communities taking care of themselves, and the fact that this money will stay here in town is the best news of all.”
Southington Community Services also provides direct client aide to families who need help covering rent payments and heating oil bills in the winter.
“”It’s a tremendous testament to the people in our community, during this busy time of year they care enough to think of others,” said Markley, who represents the 16th Senatorial District. “It really puts you in the spirit of giving.”