A Chapel Haven community member for a dozen years, this Sunday, James will set up his table at the Stop & Shop in Amity from 1 -4 p.m. and will invite shoppers to contribute non-perishables, cash or checks made payable to the Connecticut Food Bank.
His food drives are legendary. “I started my food drive to help Connecticut Food Bank get ready for natural disasters down the road,” James says. Last year, James led a food drive that raised more than $7,000 and collected more than 2,000 pounds of food on his own for CT Food Bank. He’s been organizing drives for eight years, fueled by a sense of urgency after Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy hit the area. It’s no exaggeration that James has literally raised thousands of dollars for the food bank.
This year, James observes that “people with disabilities have little to no experience prepping for natural disasters. I want to be a good role model.”
James works part time as an administrative assistant for Key Bank in New Haven. He loves his job, and in his spare time, works out in the Chapel Haven fitness center, runs in local road races, volunteers and plans out his collection drives. Along the way, James meets and makes many friends, from Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro to Gil Simmons, meteorologist at News Channel 8, to Alderman Richard Furlow.
Paul Shipman, spokesman for the food bank, described James as “an all-star to us” in a New Haven Register feature.
“He’s been terrific,” he said. “He’s come to events, he’s helped at events. He’s really an all-star to us and we’re very grateful.”
Shipman noted that while all donations are accepted, monetary donations are especially helpful since they increase food-buying power.
This year, James feels especially urgent, with storms hitting Houston and potentially Florida. James hopes that his food drive will help anyone in need, but especially people with disabilities, who are sometimes forgotten in the turbulence.
For his peers, James has this advice:
“Always stock up on non -perishables, water, batteries, flashights and prescription medications if you take them,” he says. He adds, “people with disabilities, whether they are working or not, need food.”
“James is amazing,” says Michael Storz, Chapel Haven President. “As fundraisers go, he can’t be beat!”