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Angels Gather to Feed the Needy

This Thanksgiving, 1,000 needy families won't have to worry about where their holiday meal is coming from thanks to Westport resident Al DiGuido .

DiGuido is the founder of Al's Angels -- a nonprofit that helps children and families suffering hardships due to life-threatening illnesses, like cancer, or poverty – and on Saturday he and about 300 volunteers assembled 1,000 meal bins for the organization’s sixth annual Thanksgiving Meal Distribution.

"The response this year has been overwhelming. There's been such an outpouring of love and support," DiGuido said in between loading trucks.

DiGuido said volunteers started working around 5 a.m., filling each bin with nearly $100 worth of items. Once the bins were filled, they were loaded onto five trucks for delivery to 16 organizations in the tri-state area. The day came to a close around 1 p.m.

In addition to a wide variety of food, each bin also contained a $20 supermarket gift card so families can buy a turkey to complete their holiday meal, said Chris DiGuido, Al's wife.

"These bins have everything from soup to nuts. They include stuffing, cranberry sauce, vegetables and some staple foods like peanut butter and jelly and tuna," Chris said. "Some families will get about two weeks of food out of these bins."

During the year, Al's Angels collected about $100,000 from fund-raisers to spend on the groceries. All the food was purchased directly from Chip Cingari, owner of the Wakefern ShopRite organization, and delivered to the Gault Energy facility in Norwalk, where the bins were assembled.

"The economy has been tough on many charities, but we've been blessed with tremendous support," said DiGuido, enabling his Angels to fill 250 more bins this year than last.

Although the Thanksgiving bins are done, DiGuido said there is much more work to be done. Next weekend, the organization is holding a party where it will wrap about 5,000 holiday toys. And on Dec. 11, the group will assemble holiday meal bins.

For more information about these and other upcoming volunteer events, visit Al's Angels online .

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