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Welcome to the next installment in our “Who Gives a Chip?” series, which celebrates the everyday heroes in our community. Their passion, and commitment to ‘giving a chip,’ inspires us, and we hope it will do the same for you.
For many years, June Vigliotto, owner of June’s Outback Pub in Killingworth, CT, has been holding a free Thanksgiving dinner at her restaurant. She wanted to give people a place to go for a good meal on the holiday, but many guests “didn’t feel right eating the free meal, and they suggested that [she] do it to raise money for charity.” June loved the idea, so she turned her annual turkey feast into a toy drive! Attendees to the Thanksgiving buffet are simply asked to “donate a toy or throw what they can afford in the bucket.” This year, they collected two large boxes of toys and $500! A few weeks later, the Pub also holds an annual Christmas tree trimming party, and guests bring more toys for the drive.
This year is also the 20th anniversary of June’s Outback Pub, so June held a 20th Anniversary party and asked attendees to bring more toys — and they did!
June and her “elves” take the donations and buy more toys, and donate the whole lot to Toys for Tots. “I don’t have any children, so it brings me a lot of joy, to know that I’m part of making some kids have a Merry Christmas.” She also collects coats, blankets, shoes, sleeping bags, and more for the homeless. She brings the collected goods, along with some of her food and some June’s Outback Pub sweatshirts, to New Haven to distribute to the shelters.
You don’t have to own your own restaurant to make a difference. “There are so many different ways to help in everyone’s community,” June says. “Help out where you can. You just never know who you are helping. Someday, it could mean everything to someone you know.”
Check out some of June’s “elves” at their holiday events this year (and some of their toy haul!):