MILFORD — It has been nearly a month since happy, giggling children graced the hallway and classrooms at New Beginnings Preschool and Childcare in Milford. But even without the state mandate that necessitated their temporary closure, it’s unlikely that many of the kids would be in attendance as many of the families are faced with the hardships of suspended incomes and financial uncertainty.
In an effort to give back to the community that has supported New Beginnings throughout the years, its board and staff members decided to do what they could to help during these difficult days. On Thursday evening, they opened up the school’s kitchen to prepare a free spaghetti dinner to as many people as they could.
“Members of the Milford community have been so generous to us with their donations throughout the years,” said board member Kim McCreary. “We were looking for a way to give back to our community and have seen similar free dinners in other towns. We thought a spaghetti dinner would be perfect.”
While the event was advertised to run from 5-7 p.m., cars started arriving at 4:15 p.m. By 4:45 p.m., they had already handed out 40 meals. Veering from their original plan, a command decision was made to begin asking guests for the number of kids portions as opposed to adult meals needed in an effort to provide dinner for as many people as possible and reduce the amount of potentially wasted food.
“Our ‘Pasta with a Purpose’ dinner went wonderfully,” said New Beginnings Board President Jody Melton. “We wanted to do what we could to help take some of the strain off parents. We served over 200 meals. Our first meal was served at 4:15 p.m. and we served meals up to 7 p.m.”
In the early moments of the event, there was a genuine concern that there would not be enough food to keep the line going until 7 p.m., the designated ending time for the event. At other similar events in neighboring communities, some people weren’t able to be served because the food simply ran out.
The decision was made by Melton and her colleagues to purchase additional food to extend the service. Trips were made to Dollar General in Milford, which generously offered them a discount on the extra food and supplies needed to keep the meal train rolling.
Melton said that some grateful and generous guests offered donations, which in the end totaled $158. She said New Beginnings is planning to donate the funds to Milford Food Pantry to continue to help the community with its ever-growing need.
“We had an amazing group of volunteers made up of daycare teachers and board members,” Melton noted. “We greatly appreciate all of our volunteers and the donations. We are looking at other ways we can help the community as well.”