STAMFORD, Conn. -- Enzo Bruno, owner of Madonia Restaurant on Long Ridge Road in Stamford, counts his blessings.
The father of two children recently told an employee the worst thing he could think of was one of his kids being hungry. The conversation led to a fundraiser this week at the Italian restaurant to help feed hungry Stamford school kids.
Through Christmas Eve, Madonia will donate a nonperishable food item for each entree purchased at the restaurant.
"It's our way of giving back," Katie Lauricella, who handles marketing, told Daily Voice.
The donations will be sent to Filling In the Blanks, New Canaan-based organization started by Shawnee Knight and Tina Kramer that provides 800 needy kids in Stamford with meals on the weekends. The recipients are kids enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program.
Speaking for her boss, who is planning a Christmas Eve menu at his restaurant with Maine lobster risotto and veal parmigiana among entrees, Lauricella made a plea to the public to stop in and enjoy a meal — or to just drop off a donation.
"We were talking recently about ways to give back because we've been so fortunate. He told me his daughter, who brings her lunch to school, asked why she doesn't get the lunch like some kids do. He realized she meant the kids on the free lunch program," Lauricella said
"We wondered what the kids do on the weekends. I did some research and found out about Shawnee Knight and Filling In the Blanks. We really just like to get the word out there about what they’re doing, as well as the organization in general. It’s a fantastic cause that gives back directly to our community, and those in need," said Lauricella.
Feeling the spirit? Patrons are asked to dine in the restaurant or bring in donations of food or checks (made out to Filling In the Blanks) through Saturday.
Knight said her organization is especially busy this week.
"This week we deliver our holiday backpacks," she told Daily Voice. Filling In the Blanks literally fills the gap for hungry kids, not just in Stamford, but in Westchester as well.
"We are bridging the gap over the weekends for 696 children, as of Jan. 1. For many of these children lunch at school on Friday is their last good meal until they return to school on Monday for school provided breakfast," she said.
"At Madonia they are not only getting a great meal but the restaurant is donating food items back to the children of Stamford," said Knight.
For more information about the Madonia food drive, call the restaurant at 203-322-8870.
To learn more about Filling In the Blanks, click here.