Redding children pay it forward on Thanksgiving

Students in Diane DeBonis’s first grade class at Redding Elementary School — along with their parents — prepare loaves of bread to give to the Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Danbury for Thanksgiving.

Students in Diane DeBonis’s first grade class at Redding Elementary School — along with their parents — prepare loaves of bread to give to the Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Danbury for Thanksgiving.

On the first Monday before Thanksgiving for more than 20 years, the smell of baked bread wafts out of Diane Debonis’s first grade classroom all morning — and this Monday was no different.

All 16 children in her class — along with help from some parents — took turns mixing, measuring, pouring, and stirring, as they prepared four different kinds of bread. They even cracked eggs and peeled bananas.

They used such cooking utensils as measuring spoons and cups, mixing bowls, and an electric mixer.

“We are very hands-on,” DeBonis remarked.

The bread goes to Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Danbury. The shelter serves free hot meals to the homeless and hungry.

This year, the class is making pumpkin, cranberry, banana, and corn bread.

After the loaves are made, the children take them home to bake in their ovens. They bring them back the next day.

“I wrap them up and we make a card,” DeBonis said. “This year, we are making 20 loaves. Each table makes four or five loaves.”

DeBonis delivers the bread directly to Dorothy Day. It is then served at its Thanksgiving meal.

Maggie Mottola, 6, said she feels very good that she’s doing something to help people.

“I feel awesome that we are giving breads to the people who can’t afford a turkey dinner,” she said.

Six-year-old Siobhan Reilly said she feels happy when “someone else is happy.”

“I like it when I help others,” she said.

The children took turns saying what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Zach Mulieri, 7 said he is thankful for “birds in the summer.”

Six-year-old Sadie Troy had a list of items for which she is thankful. “[I am thankful for] clothes, toys and food,” Sadie said.

Dominic Scarozza said he is thankful for his dog, Hero, who is a mutt.

Many of the students said they bake regularly with their parents.

Jillian Hsu, 6, said, “I bake bread with my mom at home. I use the bread to make sandwiches.”

Six-year-old Ellie Fenzel said she bakes chocolate chip bread.

Weston Doyle, 6, said he makes cookies and bread.

“We made 12 dozen cookies for the Boy Scouts to give as gifts,” he said.

“I have been baking bread for the Dorothy Day house even before I was working here at Redding Elementary,” Debonis said. “They are very appreciative of everything we give them.”

Aside from DeBonis’s class, the Redding PTA organized a Thanksgiving Food Drive.

Thirty-five baskets were prepared for Redding families in need. The baskets contain centerpieces and placemats along with grocery gift cards.

The PTA collected donations from parents to pay for the baskets.

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  • Teaching through cooking is the bacon and eggs of survival in America. Great story and great model for all to see and read about too. Both boys and girls should share a favorite recipe and make LIFE 101 a Betty Crocker winning prize!

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