By Lance Reynolds, Republican-American
NAUGATUCK — Prospect resident Bob Patulak would typically celebrate Christmas with his father, Michael, and they would talk with the rest of their family over the phone or via Zoom.
Michael Patulak died from COVID-19 complications Dec. 6 at the age 83. That left Bob Patulak looking for ways to celebrate the holiday.
“It was a little bit more festive with presents,” Patulak said. “This year, I didn’t want to be bothered by it because it’s not the same. Everything has changed. The world has changed.”
The annual Christmas Day Dinner at St. Michael’s Church provided Patulak comfort, even with this year’s dinner taking on a different look. Instead of the traditional sit-down feast inside the church hall, 440 meals were either picked up or dropped off to area residents.
“This is nice in the sense that it provides me with some interaction with people,” Patulak said. “At least I can bring this (dinner) home and warm it up. It’s nice to have.”
James J. Goggin, an organizer of the dinner and the borough’s tax collector, said 60 volunteers helped pack meals up, organize them into bags and then drop them off to 440 residents on Christmas. Meals featured turkey, ham, green beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes and carrots.
“We start preparing during the week, but really, the bulk of it is done Christmas morning,” Goggin said.
Naugatuck High School senior Kevin Healy volunteered at the dinner for the first time. He said he wanted to spend Christmas morning volunteering after hearing his mom’s volunteer desires for the event.
“It feels good,” Healy said. “I’m very fortunate for everything that I have. It’s nice to give back.”