By John Lynds
Each year East Boston Kiwanis Club members and volunteers kick off the holiday season by teaming up with East Boston Savings Bank and Shaw’s Supermarket shoppers to collect canned goods for Eastie’s most vulnerable residents.
On November 1, outside of Shaw’s in Liberty Plaza, Kiwanis President John Schwagerl, club members Buddy Mangini, Andrea Di Battista, Nina Gaeta-Coletta, Sharlene Hicks, and Marilyn Ford were joined by a number of Key Club members from East Boston High School and collected over 100 bags of canned goods and $335 in donations.
The donations collected outside of Shaw’s were then delivered to the Grace Church’s food pantry on the corner of Saratoga and Byron Streets. The cash will be converted to gift cards to be distributed for turkeys this Thanksgiving.
“At this time of year, demand spikes at our local food pantries for basic food staples that most people take for granted,” said Schwagerl. “The Kiwanis Club of East Boston, along with younger members of the Key Club at the High School, take action to fill that need with events held at the local Shaw’s Supermarket every year. We also are placing containers at the local East Boston Savings Bank branches for residents to drop off canned and boxed food. Every little bit helps when everyone helps. We are always grateful and amazed at the generosity of our East Boston neighbors and fellow residents that donate. This year at our Shaw’s one-day event in Central Square East Boston residents donated over $350 in cash and over 100 bags of much-needed food.”
For over two decades the Grace Federated Church’s food pantry has become an important part of the fabric of the community. With limited funding to rely on the church has been able to move mountains and climb steep hills and has successfully run the food pantry that benefits Eastie families in need of nutritious meals throughout the week.
However, food drives like the one the Kiwanis Club is running, are essential to ensuring the food pantry’s success.
The church’s Marilyn Ford has said the food pantry feeds 80 to 100 families per month. Ford said during the food pantry distributions on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon the pantry is able to give out 3 to 4 bags of food to families–an amount that represent about 12-15 nutritious meals. The church makes sure there is healthy cereal, canned fruit and vegetables, sauces, pasta, peanut butter in every bag.
To ensure the shelves at Grace Church’s food pantry stay full throughout the holidays, the Kiwanis Club will also have collection boxes for non-perishable items at the three East Boston Savings Bank branches in East Boston throughout the months of November and December.