Helping Neighbors Fund Drive Helps Brighten The Season

By: Debra Lawless

Topics: Hunger

Family Pantry volunteer prepare the foodstuffs for the annual Thanksgiving Dinner day.  FILE PHOTO

This holiday season you can brighten a local family’s life by contributing to the Chronicle’s 15th Annual Helping Neighbors Fund drive which aims to raise $60,000 for the Family Pantry of Cape Cod by Christmas.

Support Helping Neighbors

Support Helping Neighbors

“The people who we serve are Cape people,” says Christine Menard, the pantry’s executive director. “You know your toys, your gifts are staying local.”

The drive got off to a good start with Chronicle Publisher Hank Hyora’s $1,000 donation.

“Every holiday season, our readers dig deep to support the Family Pantry, and we’re proud to encourage that generosity,” Hyora says. “Every dollar donated by Cape Cod Chronicle readers purchases four meals, and that can be a huge help to working families or seniors living on fixed incomes.”

The Family Pantry is the only pantry that serves the entire Cape. Of the 9,500 clients who visited the Family Pantry this year to pick up 90,000 bags of groceries and 33 tons of clothing, 30 percent are children. Even in Chatham, Harwich and Orleans some people do not know where their next meal will come from. Sixty-three percent of the Family Pantry’s clients are employed, with many working in service industries such as landscaping, hospitality and health care. Some are students at Cape Cod Community College. The Cape’s seasonal economy can be unforgiving.

When it comes down to a choice of rent or food, the Family Pantry can help, Menard says.

During the next three weeks the Family Pantry needs toys to distribute to 1,000 children. If you are a Family Pantry client, your children under the age of 15 must be registered by Saturday, Dec. 8 to receive toys. Toys will be distributed on Dec. 16 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Each child will receive a bag of toys, puzzles, games and pajamas.

This year the need for toys is acute. Normally many toys were donated through the Toys for Tots Stuff-a-Bus program run from the Hyannis Toys “R” Us parking lot. Since Toys “R” Us went bankrupt, the Stuff-a-Bus has moved to the Kmart parking lot. Because of this change, it is impossible to predict what the turnout might be, Menard says.

Locally, you can donate toys through bins located at the Harwich Chamber of Commerce, 1 Schoolhouse Rd., Harwich Port; Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Banks; William Raveis Real Estate offices; the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod; Second Glance Thrift Shop, 265 Main St., West Harwich and Talbots, 115 Route 137. Toys can also be dropped off at the Family Pantry Warehouse, 133 Queen Anne Rd., Harwich, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Donated toys must be new and unwrapped. Gift cards in any denomination up to $50 are also welcome for older children who have outgrown the desire for toys.

Also needed are family games such as Monopoly and checkers and 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles. Each family can choose a game or puzzle.

One hundred donated bicycles and helmets will be raffled off to children ages 10 to 14 thanks to the Armbruster family of Chatham and an anonymous donor. (Those children who win the raffle receive the bicycle instead of toys.)

This holiday season you can give to the Family Pantry in many ways. For example, you might bid on original art, decorated Christmas trees and gingerbread houses with benefits of the auctions going to the Family Pantry.

You can bid on either of two artworks through The Chronicle website.

Artist Heather Bloom of Harwich Port has created a beautiful collage called “Winter’s Eve” which will be featured on the cover of the Chronicle’s first Holiday Gift Guide. Her original artwork measures 18 by 11 inches.

Ann Hart’s brilliantly-colored watercolor “Eye Candy” will appear on the cover of the second holiday guide. This painting is 14 by 16 inches, matted and framed. Hart is a faculty member of the Creative Arts Center in Chatham and lives in Harwich. Both paintings are on display in The Chronicle’s lobby. To bid, click here.

Maybe a fully-decorated Christmas tree or gingerbread house is more your style. You can bid on one or buy a raffle ticket for one at the Second Annual Festival of Trees which will begin at White Flowers, 571 Main St., Harwich Port, the evening of the Nov. 30 Harwich Port Stroll. The festival runs through Sunday, Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. when the trees will be awarded to the winners. Up for bid and raffle are full and tabletop trees, living and artificial, for indoors and out. All proceeds go to the Family Pantry. For more information visit

And remember: If every Chronicle subscriber sends in $7.50, the $60,000 goal can be reached.

Click here to donate now, or make checks payable to The Family Pantry, 133 Queen Anne Rd., Harwich, Mass. 02645, writing “Helping Neighbors” in the memo line. Donations to the non-profit Family Pantry are tax deductible. The Chronicle will publish a list of donors each week.