By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Southborough/Marlborough – Nia Benoit of Southborough knows that life lessons can be learned at any age. As a Lenten project, she and her sons Teddy, 4, and Julian, 6, collected and donated children’s items for the United Way of Tri-County’s Marlborough Community Cupboard (MCC) in the Walker Building, 255 Main St.
Benoit typically brings donations of gently used toys, books, clothes and household items for the MCC when it’s closed. She recently visited during open hours and observed families in need of assistance perusing items that are available at no cost.
“I was taken aback by how many people were ‘shopping’ there with their children,” she relayed. “A little boy walked around, clutching a toy truck that I had dropped off there. I was so happy to see him really appreciating the toy. It felt like it was time for our kids to give back.”
On Feb. 27, Benoit shared her plan with Facebook friends: “Today is the first day of Lent – Clean Monday. The boys are collecting kids’ toys and books to donate to the MCC.”
Fr. Gregory Christakos is a priest at Sts. Anargyroi Greek Orthodox Church in Marlborough, where the Benoit family are parishioners. He saw her Facebook post and agrees that the timing for the gesture is appropriate.
“Lent begins in the eastern church on Clean Monday, when people begin to ‘clean out’ sins and non-fasting foods,” he explained. “The aim of fasting is to lead to increased prayer and then almsgiving, so this is a great Lenten project.”
A bin was left on the front steps of the Benoit family’s home for two weeks. Neighbors and families of the boys’ friends filled the bin with donations.
“Our sons got so excited to check the bin daily to see if anyone dropped off any new items,” Benoit said. “A lot of the parents had their kids come to the door with the items, so they could be involved in the process. A whole corner of our dining room got filled with toys, books, puzzles, unopened birthday presents, a bike and an Elmo chair.”
The collection was delivered March 16 to a grateful Barbara LaGrenade, MCC office coordinator.
“We really appreciate the donation of toys and books for children of the food pantry,” she said. “When parents come in, the first thing their children do is go right to the books. They enjoy reading, which helps with early literacy and prepares them for school.”