You will always find neighbors helping neighbors in Canton Massachusetts. The community volunteer efforts at the Canton Food Pantry are just one example.
Several years ago the Canton Food Pantry was without a home. It had been located in different buildings throughout town where one business or another was willing to donate space. However, when the buildings were sold or renovated, the Pantry had to move. Everyone knew that the pantry needed a permanent home. The School Department offered to give the Pantry a permanent home in the school administration building, located adjacent to the high school. Custodians and other workers from the school department donated their time and talent to renovate the space to accommodate the pantry's needs while others in town donated supplies. A couple of years ago, the Pantry was automated with the help of a student group from the Galvin Middle School.
Donations are a community effort too. When the economy took a turn for the worse a few years ago, the teachers at the elementary school where my children attended sent home a message to parents, asking that in lieu of the traditional gifts to teachers given during the holiday season that parents make a donation to the food pantry instead. Several local businesses set aside space for donations to make it easier to drop off food. The religious organizations in town rotate weekends where they ask their congregation to bring in donations. Many schools and other civic organizations hold events where they take up collections for the pantry. And, there are individuals who subscribe to the monthly email list so they know what the Pantry is most in need of so that they can make a monthly donation of those items. The list goes on and on.
None of it would be possible without the volunteers that fun the Canton Food Pantry. Yes, the pantry is a completely volunteer-run effort. The two women who run the pantry are volunteers but they pretty much work full time running this well-oiled machine. Volunteers, who range in age from students to senior citizens help stock the shelves, check in clients and help operate the Pantry. Many of the volunteers are also clients. They are so touched by the help given to them by the Pantry that they want to give something back.
Last Saturday volunteers from the Canton Food Pantry helped give out the fixings for a complete Thanksgiving meal to over 130 families who otherwise would not have had the means to have a traditional turkey dinner this coming Thanksgiving. Donations of cranberry sauce, stuffing and vegetables came in from people in the community. Funds for turkeys were also donated by citizens, not to mention donations of turkeys from local businesses and the Greater Boston Food Bank. And then there were the pies! The monthly email that goes out to over 250 subscribers sent out the request for pies. Pies were collected all day on Friday at St. Gerard Majella Church and on Friday afternoon at the Food Pantry. It truly was a community effort, topped off by the selfless volunteers who run and staff the Canton Food Pantry. They organized all the donations and had it ready to go by Saturday morning. In fact, when I was at the Canton High production of Gypsy on Friday night, I saw the mountain of food laid out in the high school cafeteria waiting to be handed out the next day.
Canton MA is generally considered to be a fairly affluent town. (The average listing price of single family homes currently on the market in Canton is $640,068.00, with a low of $259,000.00 and a high of $1,500,000.00.) However, there are still many people in need in Canton and those numbers do not appear to be going down any time soon. The generosity of the people and businesses in the town are needed more than ever. The good news is that I don't see that community spirit going away any time soon. The work associated with the Canton Food Pantry and other organizations with the town make me proud to live and work here.
The Canton Food Pantry is open for shopping for senior citizens on Tuesdays and others on Wednesdays. Those who can't make it during the week can shop on one Saturday a month. If you live in Canton and need the assistance of the Food Pantry, or know someone who does, visit their website to find out more.
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