East Haven Donors Provide $10,000 for 3rd Annual Holiday Gift Card Program
For a third year, $10,000 will help spread holiday cheer in the form of 500 $20 gift cards to local businesses; to be used by residents in need just in time for Christmas. The cards will be provided thanks to a grassroots effort started by a local attorney and supported by local donors, merchants and continued assistance from East Haven’s Twin Pines Diner.
East Haven attorney Andrew Amendola has gathered $10,000 in support from the combined contributions of several local business owners and individuals in order to offer local gift cards that will be given out through local programs to residents supported by those groups. The effort follows up a third year of free Thanksgiving meals provided to East Haven veterans, seniors and residents in need through a similar effort organized by Amendola, community contributors and Twin Pines Diner.
“I do this because to whom much is given, much is expected,” said Amendola. “I want to thank the donors and all of the supporters, past and present.“
As part of the holiday gift card program, those East Haven seniors and veterans and residents in need who received a free Thanksgiving meal in November from Twin Pines Diner are eligible to receive one Twin Pines Diner $20 gift card per family. They can call (203) 468-6887 to arrange to receive the gift card. Twin Pines Diner is located at 34 Main St.
In addition to working with Twin Pines Diner, Amendola is coordinating with East Haven Public Schools, Our Lady of Pompeii Church, East Haven Food Pantry, East Haven Senior Center, and East Haven veterans' organizations so that each will receive gift cards to give out to those they serve, as part of their holiday outreach programs.
In all, 500 $20 gift cards have been purchased including those for Stop & Shop, Walmart, Kohls, Five Below, Dunkin’ Donuts and Twin Pines Diner, said Amendola. Amendola has also put together a similar program in Branford with the Parthenon Diner and several local donors in order to provide another $10,000 in gift cards to assist in Branford.
Amendola thanks this year’s generous donors who joined in assisting him with making monetary contributions to bring about the 2022 holiday gift card effort in East Haven. Program donors include Jim Triantis, owner of Twin Pines Diner; Albert DeLucia of Porto Funeral Home; Mark DiLungo of DFJ Electric; Ken Horton of Horton Group LLC; Don and Jesse Herzog of East River Energy; attorney Andrew M. Amendola; Louis Porrello; Bill and Jim Dornfeld of W.J. Dornfeld Co. Inc.; Anthony Serio; and Ron Borruso, CPA Borruso & Co. and anonymous donors.
Amendola started the free holiday meal program during Thanksgiving 2020, followed by the Christmas gift card program that December, and a free Easter meal program instituted in 2021. All three programs have continued annually in both towns, which was Amendola’s intent from the start.
Triantis said he’s grateful to Amendola for coordinating the programs and including Twin Pines Diner. He said he had the opportunity to provide more than 300 meals to those in need during the third annual free Thanksgiving dinner program this November.
“The people are so grateful,” said Triantis. “You wouldn’t believe how many thank you cards I got in the mail, and people who stop me to say thanks for the Thanksgiving dinner. I think people have to learn to give. If you learn to give, God will give back to you.”