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New Haven Non-Profit to Deliver Thanksgiving Meals


Volunteers in New Haven are gearing up for the holidays. On Friday volunteers from the non-profit FISH packed more than 1,200 bags of holiday groceries.

FISH executive director Joy Johannes explained that the food is packed and distributed to people who are unable to purchase or cook their own Thanksgiving meal.

“Some of them are in wheelchairs, or walkers or thinks like that and to try to get to the grocery store is extremely difficult, so for us to show up – a lot of them cry, they’re so happy to see us and so grateful,” she said.

FISH will deliver meal to more than 400 homes on Saturday. They have been delivering free groceries to residents of the New Haven community for over 47 years.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

'Sleep Out' for Homeless Youth


More than 60 business leaders from across the Philadelphia area spent their night on cold asphalt — sleeping on the street — to raise awareness and money to put an end to youth homelessness.

The group, which included executives from companies like Toll Brothers and the Philadelphia 76ers, took part in Covenant House Pennsylvania’s Executive Sleep Out overnight Friday. In its fourth year, the annual event challenges company leaders to share in the challenges homeless young people face every single day trying to live without a home.

Each participant is given a cardboard box, sleeping bag, trash bag and some newspaper and offered a spot on the ground outside Covenant House's Germantown crisis shelter. The supplies are sometimes much more than homeless youth have to shelter themselves while living on the street.

“We have folks that have done it all four years, that have come back every year because they care about helping Philadelphia’s homeless youth,” Covenant House Pennsylvania Executive Director John Ducoff said.

Hundreds of Philadelphia youth are homeless, surveys show. But government officials, outreach workers and experts all agree those numbers are likely much higher. A national point-in-time count conducted in January by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found 180,760 people under age 25 were homeless. Those were the kids that were found and self-identified.

Young people between ages 18 and 24 are among the most vulnerable thanks to a lack of services tailored specifically to them. They’re legal adults, but lack the social skills, education and emotional support their peers with stable homes and families get. Adult shelters are focused on the chronically homeless — many who have mental and physical health needs — who young people are scared to be around.

Covenant House is the only shelter in Philadelphia that serves this community exclusively. They offer shelter, food, education and job training, but the facility only can serve 60 people. The shelter turns away 30 young people, on average, every month because of a lack of space.

An NBC10 Digital Exclusive investigation — Faces of Homeless Youth — delved into the issue recently. In the two month long probe, our team spent time on the street and in Covenant House speaking with 17 current and formerly homeless youth.

“Youth homelessness is a silent epidemic. We need to name it. We need a community of people who wraps around our kids and says we’re going to help these kids transform their lives and build a bridge from homelessness to hope,” Ducoff said.

Events like the sleep out puts the issue in front of people and, just as importantly, raises money to help provide programs and services. This latest sleep out raised more than $250,000, Ducoff said. Additional donations are still coming in.

Photo Credit: NBC10

Facebook's Zuckerberg Announces Two Months Paternity Leave


Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg announced that he will take a two-month paternity leave.

"Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families," he wrote on his Facebook page on Friday. "At Facebook we offer our US employees up to 4 months of paid maternity or paternity leave which they can take throughout the year."

Zuckerberg revealed in July that he and wife Priscilla Chan, who are expecting a baby girl, previously had three miscarriages.

"In our ultrasound, she even gave me a thumbs up 'like' with her hand," he wrote, "so I'm already convinced she takes after me."

Photo Credit: Facebook/file
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Berlin High School Parent and Football Player Speak Out


A Berlin High School student who was named ineligible by the CIAC because of his residency said he is in fact eligible.

NBC Connecticut sat down with Gage Davis and his mother, Liza. Davis is one of 4 players who have been named ineligible by the CIAC after an independent investigation into ineligible players and recruitment. The findings lead to head coach John Capodice’s suspension.

Liza says her son has never been recruited by any staff member at the Berlin High School Football program and coaches have never had an influence on him residing in Berlin.

When NBC Connecticut went to Davis’ home, we saw a fully furnished home. We even interviewed Gage in his room.

He says he hasn’t been back to school since Tuesday.

“I don’t feel really too comfortable going back to school with everything that is going on and I just feel a little weird,” said the sophomore running back.

Gage said he has lived at his Berlin home with his grandfather since May 2014. Liza said her son comes to visit her in Middletown. She said the CIAC’s findings are wrong about her son’s residency in Berlin.

“They said that this home was vacant clearly it’s not. We’ve invited them into the home to see where Gage lives. They declined,” said Liza.

We reached out to get the full report from the CIAC. They referred us to the school system, which has yet to get back with us.

Liza said her son attends Berlin High School because they’ve had other family members who have attended, as well, and have loved the school.

Liza said if her son is wrongfully accused and not allowed back on the team she could file suit.

“I’m speaking to an attorney so if there’s found any wrong doing there’s going to be consequences.”

Berlin High School faces New Britain in their final game at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium at 7 PM.

Since Capodice’s suspension, the team will be coached by assistant Coach, Rob Levesque. The team was 7-2 before the CIAC sanctions were placed on them, which included disqualifying any wins that included any of the four players. The team is now 0-9.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Restaurant Offers Lonely Diners a Free Thanksgiving Meal


In the tiny Detroit suburb of Northville, George Dimopoulos is known for his unlikely Thanksgiving tradition.

Every year for the last decade, he has invited people who are homeless or alone on Thanksgiving Day to his restaurant, George's Senate Coney Island for a meal — free of charge.

Outside Northville, however, the tradition was largely unknown. That was until a Reddit user uploaded a photo last week of a handmade sign advertising the free dinner that was placed on the restaurant's front window. The picture has since been viewed nearly five million times.

Dimopoulos says that he never expected to garner such attention for what he said was a "normal" gesture.

"It makes my heart feel good to do it, and help a little bit," he said. 

Photo Credit: NBC News
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American Woman Killed in Mali


An American woman who lived in Takoma Park, Maryland, was killed in the terror attack Friday inside a hotel packed with foreigners in Mali's capital, State Department officials and family members say.

Anita Ashok Datar died in the attack that killed at least 20 people, officials said.

Datar, the mother of a young son, worked in global health and international development and devoted her life to service, her family wrote in a statement. She was 41, according to The Washington Post.

"Anita was one of the kindest and most generous people we know," her family said. "She loved her family and her work tremendously. Everything she did in her life she did to help others -- as a mother, public health expert, daughter, sister and friend." 

Datar worked in Washington, D.C. for Palladium Group, Inc., an international development firm, according to her LinkedIn page. She was a founding board member of the nonprofit Tulalens, which works to connect women in developing countries with health services.

She had served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal and earned degrees from Rutgers University and Columbia University. The Massachusetts native raised in New Jersey is survived by her son, parents, brother and friends around the world, her family said. 

"While we are angry and saddened that she has been killed, we know that she would want to promote education and health care to prevent violence and poverty at home and abroad, not intolerance," her family said.

The Radisson Blu hotel was stormed by Islamic extremists who killed at least 20 people and briefly took scores more people hostage. An al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group claimed credit for the attack, Reuters reported. NBC News could not immediately confirm that.

The Malian ambassador to the United States, Tiena Coulibaly, denounced the violence in his home country.

"Islam is peace. Mali is maybe 85, maybe 90, maybe 95 percent Muslims -- that is peaceful Muslims," he told News4. "What we want is the American people to know that, to understand that, and not make any confusion between the jihadists and the Muslims."

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Winter Storm Dumps Up to a Foot of Snow in Midwest


 A winter storm was forecast to dump up to 8 inches of snow on much of the Upper Midwest Saturday, disrupting travel in Chicago after giving many areas their first major accumulation of the season, NBC News reported.

Winter weather advisories were posted for much of Lower Michigan and far northern Indiana, including Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing, the Weather Channel reported.

Parts of the Sioux City, South Dakota metro area picked up over a foot of snow Friday from a band of weather that spread across northern Iowa and Illinois overnight.

The storm system was moving east and will last through Saturday evening, when it tails through Michigan, according to Richard Otto, lead forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Prediction Center.

Photo Credit: Ashley Grimshaw Lindquist

Berlin Police Warn Residents of Aggressive Coyote


Berlin Animal Control is warning residents to be on the lookout for an aggressive coyote, according to an alert sent out by the Town of Berlin Connecticut Citizen Notification System.

The alert states the coyote, which is injured or sick, has been spotted in the southeast section of town, near Wilks Pond Road, Middletown Road and Thompson Road.

Residents are reminded not to leave pets outside unattended.

Anyone who sees this coyote should contact Berlin police at (860) 828 7080.

Photo Credit: File Photo

Berlin High School Football Wins Final Game of Season


Despite everything that’s happened recently, Berlin High School’s football season ended with an emotional and bittersweet victory over New Britain.

Berlin beat New Britain, 31-28. The win improves a record that’s been ruined by allegations of cheating.

“It is kind of hard. I mean the players are the ones that are suffering,” say Mari Cintron of Berlin.

“I feel sad for the kids. It’s always about the adults and it should be about the kids,” says Milli Day of Berlin.

“A lot of us are trying to be really supportive of the seniors because it’s pretty tough on them,” says Eve Betterini, a junior at Berlin High.

But the controversy involving the team likely will continue despite the end of the season.

Its head coach and at least one of the players who were sidelined are fighting to clear their names.

On Friday, the team was missing its head coach and four players.
NBC Connecticut spoke to one of the accused ineligible players, Gage Davis, and his mother.

They say he does live in Berlin despite being accused otherwise.
“It just makes me kind of upset that I was one of those kids that were wrongly accused,” says Gage Davis.

“I feel insulted. I feel bad for all the kids involved but obviously for my own it’s heartbreaking,” says Liza Davis, Gage’s mother.
The district suspended Coach John Capodice following an investigation into recruitment and ineligible players.

His attorney, Viral Keshwala, calls the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference's review “one-sided” and “biased.”

Keshwala says the coach is calling for the ruling to be reversed.
“Yes this is about his reputation and we’ve stood by his reputation.
He loves the Berlin community,” says Keshwala.

Berlin ends the season with a 1-9 record.

Among its punishments, the team had to forfeit its previous seven wins, can’t play in the post season, and the school had to pay a fine of $4,000.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Al Qaeda Affiliate Claims Responsibility for Mali Attack


An al Qaeda-linked extremist group has claimed responsibility for the deadly hotel attack in Mali's capital on Friday that killed at least 21 people, including one American, NBC News reported.

Al-Mourabitoun, a group formed by notorious Algerian militant Moktar Belmoktar, alleged it was behind the siege and said it was done in cooperation with al Qaeda in the Great Sahara region in a statement translated by Flashpoint Intelligence, a security consulting firm and NBC News partner.

The claim came as security forces hunted "more than three" suspects and the government in Mali declared a state of emergency.

"The search has started and I can tell you that we are looking for more than three people at the moment," the country's military commander Maj. Modibo Nama Traore told The Associated Press.

Photo Credit: AP

Paris Nurse Discovers Man He Tried to Save Was Bomber


 In the chaos of the explosion at the Comptoir Voltaire cafe, one of several targets hit in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, nurse David instinctively sought to help the wounded.

Among them was a man lying amid overturned chairs and tables. David, who asked to be called just by his first name, lay him down. The man did not look to have massive injuries, but appeared unconscious, so David began CPR.

When he tore open the man's t-shirt, David quickly realized that what he initially thought was a gas explosion at the cafe was actually something far worse.

"There were wires; one white, one black, one red and one orange. Four different colors," he told Reuters. "I knew then he was a suicide bomber."

The man David was trying to resuscitate was Brahim Abdeslam, one of those involved in a series of deadly attacks that killed 130 people at bars, restaurants, a soccer stadium and a music hall.

Photo Credit: AP

ISIS Risk in the U.S. Is Homegrown, Numbers Show


Are Syrian refugees in the U.S. likely to be affiliated with ISIS? So far, the math suggests native-born Americans are a far bigger source of concern, NBC News reported.

The most comprehensive survey of Americans who've been charged with attempting to help ISIS finds that none of the 68 are Syrian or Syrian-American and that only three were refugees of any kind.

"ISIS Cases in the United States," compiled by Fordham University Law School's Center on National Security, notes instead that to date four out of five U.S. residents charged with supporting ISIS are American citizens and almost two-thirds are U.S.-born. 

Key findings of the report, which the Center continually updates, show that the alleged ISIS supporters come from a variety of backgrounds, with only a few having ties to the Middle East.

Photo Credit: AP

'It'll Be a Pretty Good Thanksgiving This Year': Dad


Hundreds of families in need will have a full turkey dinner on their table this Thanksgiving, thanks to the generosity of two New Haven organizations.

His Divine Fellowship Ministry partnered with the Knights of Columbus in New Haven to hand out turkey, coats, and shoes to local families. The Knights of Columbus purchased $4,000-worth of turkeys and donated brand new coats through their national “Coats for Kids” program. His Divine Fellowship received 1,500 pairs of donated shoes.

The average cost of putting a turkey dinner on the table this Thanksgiving is $50, according to a government survey.

“Not everyone can afford that,” said Daniel Soto, a father of five.

Soto was one of the first people in line at New Haven’s Wexler-Grant school.

“It’ll be a pretty good Thanksgiving this year,” he said of the donation.

Organizers said they expected to help 200 families in need.

On top of the turkey, families took home potatoes, stuffing and a bag full of the trimmings.

“The concept was to the greatest extent have Thanksgiving in a bag,” Tony Minopoli, national executive vice president of the Knights of Columbus, said.

The two organizations adopted three area schools and school officials helped identify the families who would most benefit from the donations.

“I work, but it’s pretty hard and we could use it,” said Carlton Dawkins, who brought his three sons with him.

The boys tried on shoes and gloves, while 10-year-old Z’Kiiya Crawford was all smiles as she received a brand new coat. She was excited to take home a pair of gently-used shoes as well.

“A lot of people judge you by the shoes that you wear sometimes,” Crawford said.

Dr. Brenda Adkins, who runs the ministry, said, “I had a young man who said his mom can’t buy sneakers cause she has to pay the rent, and his sneakers has holes in them."

"Our children can’t strive and learn if they’re being bullied because of what they have on,” she added.

The spirit of giving was alive and well in New Haven, thanks to the generous donations.

“God bless them. God bless them. We can definitely use it. We appreciate it,” said Dawkins.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Family Donates 30 Turkeys to NBC CT Food Drive


Three generations of the Galarza family, of West Hartford, donated 30 turkeys today to our annual Thanksgiving Joy of Sharing food drive.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

FBI Aware of Terror Threat Claim at WWE Event in Atlanta


The FBI said Saturday that it's aware of a terror threat made against a WWE event in Atlanta on Sunday — but with no "credible information," organizers want the show to go on, NBC News reported.

"While we take all threats seriously, we do not have specific or credible information of an attack at this time," J. Britt Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI Atlanta Field Office, said in a statement.

The threat claim was made by the hacktivist group Anonymous, which said Atlanta was one of several sites where ISIS is supposedly planning assaults on Sunday, including in Paris. NBC News has not immediately verified that report.

The world wrestling organization in response said it will continue with its Survivor Series match up at 8 p.m. ET at the Phillips Arena, where the Atlanta Hawks also play. 

Earlier in the week, an Anonymous spokesperson wearing the group's signaure Guy Fawkes mask said the group of hackers would use its expertise to wage "war" on the militant group in response to the Paris attacks.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images

More than 400 Turkeys Donated at Joy of Sharing Food Drive


Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare received more than 400 turkeys as part of their annual drive to end hunger during the holidays.

Almost half a million Connecticut residents struggle with hunger, including one of every five Connecticut children uncertain of when they will receive their next meal.

“It’s time to give back sometimes,” said Jeff Warner, of Plainville, at today’s event. “And [now] is a good time to do that.”

With donation hubs set up in West Hartford and Groton, donors served their communities in all eight counties.

“We are all about giving back to the community, and this is one of the ways we do that during the year,” NBC Connecticut General Manager Susan Tully said.

NBC Connecticut joined forces with Access Health CT, Foodshare and Connecticut Food Bank to host the event. Both Foodshare and Connecticut Food Bank offer donation opportunities year-around.

“[We are] so grateful for folks who are turning out with turkeys and all the trimmings for the holiday meal,” Paul Shipman, of Connecticut Food Bank, said. “But it's also about helping people through the tough winter season, and really hoping we can engage people in this fight against hunger all year.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Suspect Identified in Meriden Mosque Shooting: City Leaders


Meriden police are getting closer to making an arrest in a shooting at a local mosque and city leaders say a suspect has been identified.

Shots were fired into a mosque last Friday, leaving bullet hole marks. Members of the Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden discovered the scene of violence just before last Sunday evening's prayer.

The FBI has taken over the case because the deadly Paris terror attacks may have triggered the incident.

City leaders said there is only one suspect, but they haven't said whether that person has been arrested. Authorities haven't released the name of the suspect at this time.

The news comes as mosque leaders get set to open their doors to the public on Saturday for a question and answer session with mosque leaders and the FBI. On Friday, the public was invited to come to the Baitul Aman Mosque to watch members pray.

“Whatever question going through anybody's mind. Are you guys affiliated with ISIS? What is Islam about? There are no dumb questions," Salaam Bhatti, spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said.

Bhatti previously said they condemn those attacks and all acts of terrorism and that they're standing up rather than bowing down to fear. The community has been supportive, Bhatti said.

"What we practice here, that is true Islam, being kind to neighbors, participating in Thanksgiving turkey drives, being part of the Christmas gift giving and the Daffodil Festival," Bhatti said. "These things that make us a stronger community, that is what Islam is about, not killing innocent people," said Bhatti.

That open house runs from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Drunken Man Had Drugs, Gun in Car: PD


Hartford police arrested a man on drug and gun charges after he pulled out a concealed firearm to discard it after police found him intoxicated in a car, police said.

Police responded to the area of Allen Place at the Summit Street intersection at about 2:43 a.m. on Saturday to investigate a report of a man passed out in a car behind the steering wheel, police said. They found Eliu Claudio, 34, of Hartford, "extremely intoxicated" in the driver's seat of a blue 2006 Mercedes, police said. When police asked him to get out of the car, he took out a gun from the area of his waist and tried to throw it to the floor of the car, according to police.

Officers pulled him out of the car and restrained him. Officers found narcotics on him.

The gun turned out to be stolen from Los Angeles, California.

Police charged him with driving under the influence, insufficient insurance, misuse of registration, criminal possession of a firearm, possession of a pistol without a permit, theft of a firearm, weapon in a motor vehicle, illegal possession of narcotics, illegal possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school and narcotics in an improper container. 

Claudio is a convicted felon with prior gun violation convictions, police said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Robbed Norwalk Store After Credit Card Was Declined: Police


Police are looking for a man suspected of robbing a food store after trying to buy something with a credit card that ended up getting declined.

Norwalk police responded to the Krysshana Deli & Grocery at 112 South Main Street in Norwalk at 8:57 p.m. on Nov. 17 to investigate a reported robbery.

A man tried to use a credit card to make a purchase, but when the car was declined, he pushed his way behind the counter and attacked the clerk, police said. Then he stole money from the cash register and ran from the store, according to police.

Detectives ask anyone with information to call Det. Cisero at 203-854-3034.

Photo Credit: Norwalk Police Department

Former Babysitter Arrested in Abduction of 2-Year-Old


Police have arrested a former babysitter suspected of kidnapping a 2-year-old Massachusetts girl, who was found naked with her head shaved.

Hours after Lyndon Albers of Hamilton disappeared, she was found on the side of the road in Rowley, near the Ipswich line, about seven miles from her home.

Saturday morning, Hamilton Police announced they had arrested the toddler's former babysitter, 21-year-old Abigail Hanna, of Topsfield, Massachusetts. Hanna faces charges of kidnapping, assault and breaking and entering.

Police say Hanna broke into Albers' home early Friday morning and kidnapped the child. 

Albers' parents told police they saw the child in the home around 3 a.m., but by 7 a.m., she was gone and they called 911. The search for the girl lasted hours, with state police detectives, air-wing units, K-9 units and detectives aiding local police. Tom and Marge Crosby ultimately found her inches off Newbury Road on their way to work.

Saturday, prosecutors said Albers was still in the hospital, but was improving. She was listed in fair condition Friday night.

Hanna formerly worked with teens at a summer program with Gordon College in Wenham. She was once a student there, as well.

"The Gordon College community was shocked and saddened to learn that a former student who was briefly enrolled at Gordon has been charged in the case of the toddler who was taken from her home in Hamilton," the school said in a statement. "Our hearts and prayers are with the child and her parents."

A Gordon student and neighbor of Hanna who doesn't know her personally says neighbors in Topsfield are in disbelief and have questions.

"I hope there is more information, because it feels like something is off," said Nick Schultz. "I feel like there is definitely going to be more information coming out that may change the light on this a little bit."

Hanna has been held without bail. She is due to be arraigned Monday in Newburyport District Court.

Stay with necn as this story develops.

Photo Credit: Polica de Hamilton
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