The turkey’s in the oven, all the other Thanksgiving trimmings are ready to go, and the family’s together. For hundreds of local families, today’s festivities are made possible by the Family Pantry of Cape Cod and its donors.
Executive Director Christine Menard admits that it’s a frantic but enjoyable time of year.
“Turkeys and toys. It’s fun. There’s a nice energy,” she said. Over the course of a year, around 10,000 individual clients rely on the Family Pantry to help them put food on the table, and each week, the Pantry distributes 40,000 pounds of food. That's the equivalent weight of about 15 passenger cars.
To help meet that incredible appetite for assistance, The Cape Cod Chronicle is holding its Helping Neighbors campaign to support the Family Pantry, as it does each holiday season.
“We rely on the generosity of our readers, and they come through for us without fail,” Cape Cod Chronicle publisher Henry C. Hyora said. This year, The Chronicle is challenging its readers to raise $50,000 for the Family Pantry, which will give them a solid head-start for the year 2020. If each subscriber contributes just $6.25, the campaign will meet its goal. The first $5,000 contributed will be doubled, thanks to a dollar-for-dollar match by an anonymous donor.
Each week, we'll be sharing stories about the Family Pantry, its volunteers and the local people who rely on the nutritious groceries they provide. We'll also be publishing a list of donors.
The turkeys and Thanksgiving meal packages distributed last week were in high demand. Sign-ups for the special food distribution filled up nearly three weeks earlier than it did last year, Menard said. It’s another indicator that demand for the Pantry’s services is on the rise.
Next up is the annual toy distribution which will ensure that around 1,000 local children receive toys this holiday season. In the Family Pantry’s warehouse, tucked in various nooks and lined up on top of the food freezers are dozens of new bicycles, to be given to the children of clients using a lottery system. Large boxes of donated toys are also filling up, with items for boys and girls of all ages and young teenagers. Each registered child will receive a bag of toys, puzzles, games and pajamas. The bike lottery is made possible by three anonymous donors from Chatham, Harwich and Mashpee who donated the funds for the bikes this year.
Donations of new, unwrapped toys, games, pajamas, hats, mittens and gift cards are welcome through Dec. 7, and can be brought to the Family Pantry’s warehouse at 133 Queen Anne Rd. in North Harwich.
Other types of in-kind donations also help the Pantry, including non-perishable food and redeemable cans and bottles. The Second Glance Thrift Store in West Harwich also provides a critical revenue stream for the Pantry, and is always in need of donations of gently used clothing, housewares and non upholstered furniture. For details, call 508-432-0636.
At this time of year, there’s another way to help the Family Pantry, thanks to local artists. Each year, The Chronicle invites artists to donate their original works to be featured on the covers of the newspaper’s two holiday gift guides, the first of which is included in this week’s edition. Then, those original works are framed and put up for auction, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Family Pantry.
“This year, the auction features beautiful paintings by William Lutz and Kassie Foss, who generously donated their works for the auction,” Hyora said. Bidding this year is likely to be fast-paced, thanks to a new online auction format, he said. The paintings are on display in the Chronicle’s lobby in Chatham, and online bids can be submitted by visiting www.CapeCodChronicle.com/info/auction.
There’s another reason to be thankful this holiday season. Thanks to the generosity of Chronicle readers, Helping Neighbors is poised to reach an important milestone. Once donors have contributed $11,745.75 toward the $50,000 goal, Helping Neighbors will have raised $1 million for the Family Pantry since the start of the campaign in 2004.
“This is an important time of year,” Menard said. The Family Pantry receives 30 percent of its annual donations in November and December, and those holiday contributions make it possible for the organization to operate in the lean months of late winter. That’s also a time when there’s typically a surge in requests for assistance, she said.
To make your contribution, click here, or send a tax-deductible donation to The Family Pantry, 133 Queen Anne Rd., Harwich, MA 02645 (please write “Helping Neighbors” in the memo line). Donors can also text “Hunger” to 80100 to give $20, or text “Pantry” to 80100 to give $10. To learn about other ways to help, or to find out how to receive assistance, call 508 432-6519 or visit www.TheFamilyPantry.com.