Canton Food Pantry Still Accepting Food for Thanksgiving Dinners
The food pantry still needs cranberry sauce, stuffing, juice and fresh-baked pies to be included in 180 Thanksgiving dinners that will be given out on Saturday.
The holidays bring out the best in people. Thankfully, many often increase their donations to their local food pantry.
Volunteers are welcome, and donations of cranberry sauce, stuffing, juice and fresh-baked pies are still being accepted for Thanksgiving.
"Last year, we gave out 161 complete dinners in an hour and a half," said Mary Ellen Hudner, who runs the food pantry with co-director Carolann Browne. "It's taken us five years but we're now a well-oiled machine."
Today, Hudner will borrow a truck and drive into the Greater Boston Food Bank where she will pick up 140 (14 pound) turkeys, 750 pounds of potatoes, 53 pounds of squash and 250 pounds of onions.
An additional 40 turkeys will be donated this week to be added to that total. Dinners will also include carrots, stuffing, cranberry sauce, cider and a pie.
The food pantry is located in the renovated former girls' locker room of the Rodman Building at the Canton High School complex and services about 90 people each week.
Clients must prove they live in Canton and are asked to provide information regarding income level and family size.
"People think, 'This is Canton, there can't be this kind of need in Canton,' but people come in for all different reasons," Hudner said. "Believe it or not, we have a large number of clients for a town that most people think is affluent."
The organization is entirely run by volunteers.
Hudner became involved with the organization five years ago when the former directors were stepping down. She had been to the pantry with her son's second grade class and wanted to help out.
Volunteer Barbara Borden has spent the last few years of her retirement volunteering at the pantry.
"I enjoy doing it," Borden said while stocking shelves. "I'm helping out and I'm pleased to do it."
John Friel has volunteered two and a half hours a week for the last 14 months and said his time at the food pantry compliments his other civic commitments.
"I think I've missed two days since last year," Friel noted, as he helped clients through the check-in process.
Hudner said volunteers are plentiful during this time of year but it's the summertime when volunteers, and food, can be sparse.
"We need people to remember us during the summer," said Hudner. "We have to remember that we have families with children who aren't in school in the summer so they're not getting two free meals a day. Then, they go back to school and they need school supplies."
Hudner recalled the story of a mother who came into the office after a divorce and had no school supplies or clothes to send her son to school. Hudner rummaged through her desk drawer to give the woman all she could (she also bagged up some of her own son's clothes and donated them to the family.)
Fellow volunteers call her "Mother Teresa Junior."
Hudner told the story of a man who asked if he could have three rolls of toilet paper instead of the two allowed per family because his daughter had a cold and they didn't have any tissues. Hudner gave him the tissues off her desk.
"Some people have nothing and need everything," said Hudner, adding that Canton residents and businesses are very generous in their offerings. If Hudner needs something for the pantry, all she has to do is ask a donor.
In fact, one such donor is "Mr. Smith," a man who wants to remain anonymous. He is one of the pantry's strongest champions usually negotiating deals that range from boxes of carrots to bulk toys at a discounted price.
A major area of need, said Hudner, is a large [company] truck to go into the Greater Boston Food Pantry once a month to help pick up 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of food. Currently, Marathis Carpet donates a truck for each trip but Hudner would like others to step up and share the load.
General food pantry items needed include coffee, toilet paper, tissues, canned meat, pasta, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, cereal, canned fruit and vegetables, toiletries including toothbrushes and toothpaste, laundry detergent and feminine products. A more complete list is available at www.cantonfoodpantry.com.
Hudner said non-perishable items can be dropped off at the Bank of Canton, Canton Co-operative Bank, Canton Public Library, and Pratt Realtors. Items can also be dropped off at the pantry on Mondays between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
The food pantry is open from 9:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. on Tuesdays for senior clients only, and on Wednesdays for all others. Working clients can shop on the first Saturday of each month from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to the Canton Area Helpline, P.O. Box 202, Canton, MA 02021.