For 44 years, Ed Cofone has gotten up before daylight to begin cooking turkeys at the Knights of Columbus hall for the annual Christmas day meal for seniors.
Asked why he has given up his Christmas day to cook for a room full of seniors, Cofone said, simply, “This is more important. It makes me feel good.”
The annual dinner, which is sponsored by Orinoco Council # 39 Greenwich, has continued to grow each year.
On Saturday 96 people enjoyed turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, string beans, gravy, stuffing, bread & butter, and apple pie. And, oh, there was a free open bar.
The Knights of Columbus offers individuals a warm, safe, and friendly place to share some time, friendship, conversation and good food and drink regardless of race, color creed, age, or economic background.
“Holidays, especially Christmas, can be a very depressing time for those who are alone. There are many reason people are in the situation of being alone at Christmas. They may be elderly, widowed, have no children in the area, have parents who are deceased, or just about any reason that you can think of,” said Grand Knight Mike Lally.
Kevin Williams said volunteering at the annual Knights of Columbus Christmas dinner was a tradition in his family, and that his father, who passed last year, had led the way. “I started doing this 20 years ago,” he said. “I moved away from Greenwich, but come back for this.”
Alex Khan, Woojin Kwak, Sean Deyton, and Katie Pickett all volunteered for the first time Alex’s mother, GHS art teacher Julie Nixon, connected them to the opportunity.
“We wanted to do something to give back,” said Katie. “We’re so privileged.”
Other volunteers included siblings Wes, Mitch and Laine Blummer, all first time volunteers. “It’s an opportunity to spread Christmas cheer,” Wes said, in between pouring drinks at the open bar.
The Knights of Columbus volunteers not only cook and serve the meal restaurant style, but they provide rides to all the seniors.
“We pick them up and drive them home afterward,” said John Fasone, past grand knight of Council 39, who said he purchased all the food from Restaurant Depot. “Most of the cooks arrive to begin cooking at 7:00am, right after church.”
Mr. Fasone said in the lead up to Christmas, sign up sheets were posted at the Senior Center, and residences including Agnes Morley, Quarry Knoll and Vinci Drive.
The meal was free and seniors needed only indicate whether they needed a ride to Knights of Columbus Hall.
The effort requires weeks of planning. Directions are prepared for the drivers to pick up the participants. Ingredients are planned and purchased. Signup stations are placed throughout town. The Council Hall is decorated and set up for dinner. Volunteers, many who are not Knights or even Catholic, are recruited to help the guests in, seat them and offer to get them a cocktail or soft drink. What everyone has in common is a willingness to give up some of their Christmas Day with their family to bring joy to others less fortunate.
Seniors also have the option of having their dinner delivered to their home address.
To top it all off, all guests receive a gift.
The Greenwich Knights of Columbus Hall is located at 37 West Putnam Ave Greenwich, CT 06830