2016-11-22 / Front Page

Thanksgiving for all

'If life is good to you, give something back'
Senior Staff Writer

ALFRED — By  3:30 p.m. Monday, volunteers with York County Shelter Programs food pantry had given out 690 Thanksgiving food boxes to families from York to Old Orchard Beach, from the coast to the far inland reaches of York County.

The boxes were filled with frozen turkeys, potatoes and squash, canned vegetables and cranberry sauce and boxes of stuffing  —  the traditional ingredients that make up Thanksgiving dinner.

By the end of the distribution Wednesday afternoon, shelter director Bob Dawber estimated the number would reach 1,500 to 2,000 boxes, with enough food to provide a Thanksgiving meal to upwards 10,000 people.

“We see all ages,” said food pantry coordinator Trevor Pietila. This year, he said, he’s noticed more senior citizens, more people with kids, larger households. 

The Thanksgiving  distribution is an annual event at the shelter on Shaker Hill. Folks pitch in to help supply the food and others, like a group of volunteers working Monday, don warm clothing and pack boxes in the chilly Shaker barn.

Families come and collect their box and are on their way in short order. 

Besides traditional Thanksgiving foods, there’s a bit extra in the boxes this year. That is because aside from the special holiday distribution, the food pantry must continue to collect from their usual weekly  suppliers like Walmart and four Hannaford markets, said Pietila. So those items go into the boxes too, to provide a little extra — one box contained pasta, another bacon and so on.

 It all helps fill family cupboards — cupboards looking a little sparse these days, for a variety of reasons, said shelter spokeswoman Joan Sylvester. Those reasons can be because someone is working fewer hours, and so receiving less pay, or because they’d been laid off from their job altogether.

Sylvester said she’s seen families of 8 come for the distribution, others with fewer numbers and some where there are three generations — grandparents, parents and children.

“Some say they’re embarrassed to come,” said Sylvester. She knows that the food boxes  make Thanksgiving possible.

Pietila said the response this year from those who want to help has been “huge.”

“We put out the call we needed some turkeys, and people stepped up,” he said. Not only do corporations pitch in to help, but he said he’s noticed groups of people got together and bought a half dozen turkeys or more to help the cause.

On Monday, upwards of 10 volunteers in jackets and hats packed boxes. It was relatively quiet at the end of the distribution day — and the number of those picking up had dwindled to a trickle.

It began on Sunday this year to make it easier for working folks. The distribution was to stop at 4 p.m. Monday and and resume at 9 a.m. today. They’ll go until 4 p.m. and then shut down until Wednesday, when the distribution will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Volunteers, from corporations like Idexx to York County Federal Credit Union, to groups like like St. Thomas School students to a group from New Life Church  and several more have stepped in to help.

Among the volunteers packing boxes late Monday afternoon was Ernie Cote of Shapleigh, who volunteers at the food pantry regularly, twice a week.

“Its fun to help out,” he said. “And if  life is good to you, give something back.” 

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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