Rich Marcucio is the Store Manager of the Stop & Shop on Villa Avenue in Fairfield, Connecticut. He’s worked for Stop & Shop since 1984 and plans to retire eventually. For now he keeps this busy store running smoothly as he and his associates serve some 21,000 Fairfield residents every week.
In 2000, Marcucio and his department heads were invited to come down and see firsthand the programs at Operation Hope of Fairfield. As he puts it, “When you’re doing fundraising, you need to make a connection in order to get behind something. All of us came back amazed at how much Operation Hope was doing – from the day-to-day meal serving to the pantry and all the other programs.” It was a turning point for Rich and his associates at Stop & Shop.
Although Rich has been involved with local charities for twenty years now, he feels a strong connection with Operation Hope. “We are in the food business so I thought it would be a perfect fit to support a food pantry. But we’ve learned Operation Hope is much more.” Rich and his team routinely raise money and encourage food donations at the Fairfield store. On a weekly basis the store has a collection area where customers are invited to drop off non-perishable food and other household items. Marcucio speaks glowingly of his customers, who he says are some of the most benevolent he’s come across in his career.
“We’ve actually seen an increase in donations in the last four to five months in spite of this economy. It’s nice to see our community step up when you know there are people out there making a choice between buying food and medicine or paying their mortgage. To see this type of generosity from the people of Fairfield restores my faith and keeps me going.”
All told, Rich and his team have raised $136,000 in food and cash for Operation Hope since they began eight years ago. Carla Miklos, Executive Director of Operation Hope Fairfield says, “We are so lucky to have the Villa Avenue Stop & Shop as our friend. Rich is very committed to helping us serve those in need, and his entire team of employees and suppliers really come through to make his events and other efforts a success. We are truly blessed to have such a dedicated community partner.”
Aside from the daily collection box, the associates at Stop & Shop raise money by running a hotdog cart on Saturdays. The main event however is the annual car show and a great example of a group of people coming together to support a common cause.
The car show is a program Rich has run for many years. It began with a single car owned by Davidson Company in Cheshire, Connecticut. Davidson had recently purchased a race car and as a promotion offered to bring it down to Stop & Shop one day. They raised $400 selling hot dogs. Local shoppers and car fans got to meet the driver, get autographs and see the car.
Today that same idea has grown to include 80 cars of every variety. Vendors donate their time and prizes. Davidson provides the forty trophies and their race cars. Polar Soda donated mountain bikes for a raffle. Volunteers from People’s Bank participate. Rich and his team plan, manage and work at the event. The people of Fairfield come out in droves, bringing their cars and their donations. Each car receives an empty box and attendees are encouraged to place a non-perishable food item in the box of their favorite cars. At the end of the day, trophies are awarded to the winners and all the food and cash proceeds go to Operation Hope. In 2008 they raised $5,450.
Marcucio says, “I have people who’ve been transferred to another store who come back just for the car show. It’s a great day for the store, for this community and a chance for our employees to let their hair down a little bit.”
Another annual event is the holiday giving tree. The store adopts one hundred children, fifty of whom are from Operation Hope. Each child receives a gift from either a Stop & Shop associate or a customer. Rich makes sure every child is taken care of at the end of the day. “If all the kids don’t receive gifts, we take care of them anyway.”
Operation Hope also serves as a resource for Stop & Shop. A program participant went from pushing carts four years ago to becoming a full-time grocery employee. It’s a two way street according to Marcucio.
“When you do something for someone else, you always feel good. It never fails.”
1 week ago