St. Anne’s Human Services provides holiday cheer, year-round support

741

St. Anne’s Human Services provides holiday cheer, year-round support
The volunteers at St. Anne’s Human Services Food Pantry. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

SHREWSBURY – Dozens of volunteers, boxes of produce and hundreds of clients – just another Monday at St. Anne’s Food Pantry.

The pantry – an offshoot of St. Anne’s Human Services – helps fight food insecurity throughout Shrewsbury.

Supported by community donations, corporate sponsors and volunteers, the food pantry has shop days for clients, where people can select certain items from fully stocked shelves, including an assortment of meats. On non-shop days, clients have the option to pick up a box of fresh produce. The pantry now has senior days, intended for the 62-plus crowd.

The Worcester County Food Bank is the source of much of St. Anne’s food. The pantry also gets donations from corporate sponsors – namely Trader Joe’s and Target – several times per week.

St. Anne’s also provides monthly diaper distributions, weekly medical programs and more.

“The motivation is really just to give back… It sounds sort of pedestrian, but it’s really true… It’s just really rewarding,” St. Anne’s Food Pantry Co-Manager Melinda Nies told the Community Advocate.

St. Anne’s Human Services provides holiday cheer, year-round support
Volunteers at St. Anne’s Human Services Food Pantry help load, sort, organize and prepare food for clients in need. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

Nies runs the pantry alongside Myriam Kant. Nies said the core group of 17 volunteers – which she “can call at almost any point during the week and they’ll come through” – help serve the list of roughly 400 families, which amounts to roughly 1,400 people.

The volunteerism comes from all directions; some volunteers started as clients who refused to take without giving. The pantry receives help from the Knights of Columbus, and every Saturday morning an accountant volunteers to help St. Anne’s with the paperwork and behind-the-scenes technicalities required for charitable organizations to operate.

Plus, St. Anne’s volunteers often form long-lasting friendships.

“Just recently, I had two women from Shrewsbury, newly retired, come down to donate stuff. We signed them up, they’re now here volunteering. These two women, every Monday they go out to lunch afterwards. It’s a new friendship in their 60s that has been able to flourish here, which is just so exciting for me,” Nies said. “I also have a group of women who have been coming here for close to 35 years, it could even be 40. Even my regular volunteers, we just have a great time together.”

St. Anne’s Human Services provides holiday cheer, year-round support
Volunteers at St. Anne’s Human Services Food Pantry help load, sort, organize and prepare food for clients in need. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

With the holiday season, St. Anne’s has been busier than ever helping clients.

As volunteers organized boxes of food on Dec. 11, they also handed out holiday presents to clients. The gifts, distributed to roughly 150 qualified Shrewsbury families, were organized by St. Anne’s Human Services. The work began in late August – and donations flowed from numerous giving trees throughout town.

“We have a whole team of people who put together those bags… It’s a lot of work. It’s really overwhelming sometimes for the clients because they get so much, but it really helps for people that need help during this time of year,” said Nies.

Employees at the T.J.Maxx headquarters in Framingham donated holiday gifts for 70 clients. The Advantage Trucking Group donated 100 turkeys and 100 bags of fixings for holiday dinners; this is the 11th straight year the company has donated to St. Anne’s.

“Especially this time of year, it’s joyful to see what comes in,” Nies said.

While Nies doesn’t want to stop anyone from helping during Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah and other holidays, the food pantry doesn’t have an off-season, and the organization seeks volunteers for every time of year.

Potential volunteers must be vetted before coming to St. Anne’s.

Please visit the St. Anne’s Human Services Food Pantry website for more information.

No posts to display