December 14, 2017

Good evening, everyone – I wasn’t at the pantry yesterday, but the other volunteers soldiered on.  They served a total of 25 families, including 37 adults, 27 children and 9 seniors.

Ever since Paul Feiner suggested that we put a bin at Greenburgh Town Hall so that people could donate food, I’ve been checking regularly to pick up whatever anybody has donated.  For the last couple of weeks the bin has been overflowing.  A few days ago I loaded the back of my car with a huge assortment of food, which I’ll deliver to the pantry next Wednesday.
There are also two bins at Greenburgh Town Hall for food being collected for Puerto Rico.  Those bins are full, too, but they won’t be able to ship the canned goods to Puerto Rico because they’re too heavy, so all the cans were also donated to us.  So, nothing goes to waste.
Yesterday, instead of being at the pantry, I attended a meeting of the Association of Development Officers.  I went because Eric Nodiff of the Giving Circle of Lower Westchester sent an e-mail around, suggesting that food pantries who have received grants from the Giving Circle might be interested in this group.  Their brochure says they are the “resource for fundraisers in the Hudson Valley”.  They were a warm and welcoming group, although most of them are actually employed as fundraisers, not volunteers.  There were people there from the Alzheimer’s Association, the YMCA, Montefiore Hospital, and so on.  I felt kind of out of place, but they made me feel welcome.
And what they had to say reflected what we volunteers at the pantry do – raise funds for our organization.  Yesterday’s presentation had to do with being authentic and forming a relationship with donors.  In the back of my mind throughout the speech was the image of Linda Herring, the volunteer who writes every thank-you letter and e-mail that we send – and we send a lot of thank-you’s.  She always tries to mention something in particular about the person’s or the organization’s donation – and that was exactly what these presenters were emphasizing.  Linda works hard at this, and we appreciate, and NEED, everything she does.  Thank you and thank you again, Linda.
Next Wednesday we’ll be giving out Stop & Shop gift cards, decorative tote bags and candy canes to the pantry clients.  Then the following Wednesday we’ll go back to normal.  The holidays have been an exciting ride.  Whew!
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December 6, 2017

Hello, everybody – today we served a total of 22 families, including 34 adults, 27 children and 7 seniors.

December 15 will be a big day for us.  In the afternoon we’ll be receiving a donation of food collected by the 5th-through-8th-grade classes at the Masters School.  They’ll just carry it right down Clinton Avenue, into the church and up the stairs to our storage area.  It will be much easier for the students to do it than us volunteers with our bad backs, shoulders, etc.  Then, in the evening, the South Church Youth Group will come and sort all the food for us (with us supervising, of course) and carry down as much as possible to put on the shelves, ready for the next pantry day.  The Masters students and the Youth Group will make life much easier for us volunteers.
In January we’ll be visited by the Food Bank for Westchester.  Since we’re affiliated with them, they come to inspect our facilities every eighteen months.  They want to make sure the refrigerators and freezer are cold enough, food is stored at least six inches off the floor, etc.  We’re proud of how we maintain the pantry, so we’re looking forward to it.
Over the last two weeks we’ve received donated food from Woodlands Community Temple in Greenburgh.  A wonderful woman named Val drove it over in her car.  Woodlands is a temple that is very concerned about the wellbeing of the community, and they have a finger in many pies.  Rabbi Billy Dreskin is the heart and soul of that temple, which is why it’s so caring and committed.
Sometimes the holidays can be stressful.  Try and relax.  Breathe.  (Am I talking to myself??)
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December 1, 2017

Good morning, everyone – Wednesday in the morning we served a total of 24 families, including 35 adults, 29 children and 10 seniors.  In the evening Benny, Andrew and I served another 12 families with 27 adults, 20 children and 3 seniors.  This brought us to a total for the day of 36 families with 62 adults, 49 children and 13 seniors.  We averaged 34 families a week in November.

We were able to give out frozen hams to three clients who came in the evening, thanks to the Hudson Social food drive.  We’ll stay in touch with Hudson Social, and maybe this can happen again.
While we were in the middle of giving out food at the pantry, two employees from Cabrini Nursing Home arrived with a huge amount of food for us, which they patiently carried upstairs to the office we use for storage.  They had to make two trips, plus they brought a huge case of toilet paper, much of which has already been given out.  And they delivered an envelope full of cash and gift cards.  The employees of Cabrini deserve a collective hug.  We can, and will, use everything they’ve sent us.
That office upstairs is getting crowded with the food that’s been donated.  This happens during the holidays, then we draw on the food for months afterwards.  The South Church youth group will be helping us to sort the food.  The real organizers, though, are Carol and Eileen.  A hug to both of you – or maybe a fist bump, since it’s flu season.
Two of the four mothers for whom I picked up diapers in Yonkers in November brought me applications they had filled out for December, which I scanned and e-mailed to Wendy Armstrong, the director of the program.  Those mothers will go on their own to the Department of Social Services in Yonkers on December 16 to pick up their diapers and fill out an application for the next month.  Then they’ll be on their own and I’ll be out of the picture.  The other two mothers had forgotten their applications but said they’d go to Yonkers themselves to fill out and submit the forms.  I’m so glad the Junior League came up with this program in conjunction with Social Services.
We’ll be giving out Stop & Shop gift cards to our clients again for Christmas, together with decorated tote bags and candy canes or something.  Then everything will quiet down in January.  Don’t forget to keep those donations – both financial and edible – coming after the first of the year.
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November 22, 2017 – all ready for the day before Thanksgiving!

day before thanksgiving 2017

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November 22, 2017

Good evening, everybody – This morning we served a total of 40 families, with 67 adults, 62 children and 9 seniors.

Last Thursday I was able to collect 50 diapers plus a package of wipes for each of four of our families, and I’m right that the women themselves can go to the Department of Social Services in Yonkers next month.  It turns out that a new application has to be submitted every month, so I picked up more applications and gave them out today.  Two more people took applications.  They’ll bring them back to me next week and I’ll fax them over to Wendy Armstrong of the Junior League and she’ll see that the women’s names are added to the list.  Then on December 16 the women can go to the DSS themselves to get the diapers and at the same time they can fill out and submit another application for the following month.  This can turn into a very helpful routine for the mothers as long as they need diapers.
Last Thursday Lyn and I had a great time rubbing elbows with other pantry directors and learning how they operate, as well as getting to know some of the members of the Giving Circle at their annual dinner at the Bonnie Briar Country Club.  Eric Nodiff created the program and he’s been its director since it started a few years ago.  He has a heart of gold, and the other members have been influenced by him.
Our new partner, Hudson Social, collected food for us last Saturday.  Lyn was there and she said it was a great success.  I hope some of the people on this list were there.
And last Sunday was the Interfaith Caring Community’s Thanksgiving service.  This year it was at South Church.  Despite the bad weather it was amazingly well-attended, and many of the attendees brought food, toiletries and cleaning supplies for the pantry.  We put a cart at the door for people who brought products for us, and it was overflowing.  People came from many towns for this service, and it shows how generous people are in this area.
Our experiment with Springhurst’s program to save food not taken at lunch by the students and pass in on to the pantry is working well.  There’s a reliable custodian by the name of Jose who brings the food twice a week and leaves it in our refrigerator.  Hope the experiment continues.
So, it was quite a week for the pantry.  This has happened in other years at Thanksgiving as well.  It’s exciting and gratifying.
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November 16, 2017

Good morning, everybody – Yesterday we served a total of 43 families, including 68 adults, 55 children and 11 seniors.

This afternoon I’m going to the Yonkers Department of Social Services to pick up a box of diapers and a package of baby wipes for four of our clients who have babies.  This is a program that was started by the Junior League of Westchester County for needy mothers since diapers are so expensive.  If anybody on this list would like to donate some diapers, we’d be happy, especially sizes 4, 5 and 6.  The Department of Social Services gives out one box of 50 diapers and one package of wipes on the last Thursday of every month.  I’ll go this first time, just to see how it works, but I’m pretty sure that the mothers themselves can pick up the diapers from now on.
Then this evening Lyn and I will be at the dinner sponsored by the Giving Circle of Lower Westchester.  We’ve received grants from the Giving Circle for the last couple of years, and they are a wonderful, caring organization.  They put on a beautiful dinner every year with gourmet food, wine and friendly people.  And you get to shake hands with some of the people who donate to the Giving Circle in order to make these grants possible.  It’s attended by people from many pantries, so it’s a good networking opportunity.
This coming Saturday, November 18, between the hours of 1 and 6, you should eat at Hudson Social, which is down at the train station plaza in Dobbs Ferry.  It’s a merry place, and they serve a variety of interesting foods.  This Saturday they’re doing a food drive for the pantry, so everyone is encouraged to bring shelf-stable food for us.  If you bring a turkey or ham you get a free pitcher of mimosas or a bucket of beer, and if you bring three cans or packages of shelf-stable foods you get a free mimosa or pint of beer.  Not sure where we’d store the turkeys and hams, but we’d be very happy to have whatever other foods people bring.
Speaking of turkeys, we will be receiving twelve turkeys from Cabrini Nursing Home on Wednesday morning, which will be given out to twelve lucky clients, together with a pie for everybody.  Yesterday we gave everybody a big, decorative tote bag, donated by volunteer Mary Anne G. and her family, and a gift card so that people can buy whatever they want at Stop & Shop.  We’ve done this for the last two or three years in lieu of trying to figure out how to store a turkey for every client.  We give gift cards to the clients for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
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November 8, 2017

Good evening, everyone – today we served a total of 22 families, including 31 adults, 28 children and 6 seniors.

The holidays are right around the corner.  We were notified that Hudson Social, a popular restaurant near the Dobbs Ferry train station, is planning to do a food drive for us on November 18.  On that day everyone who comes to the restaurant is encouraged to bring some food for the pantry.  So plan to eat at Hudson Social that day and bring something for the pantry.  We’re glad to have a new friend in town.
We also got an e-mail from the Student Speech Language Hearing Association at Mercy College.  They’re also planning on doing a food drive for us some time over the holidays.  We’re always delighted to partner with Mercy.  In the case of both Hudson Social and Mercy I’ve sent a list of the foods that our clients ask for most often, including diapers and baby wipes.(they cost a fortune).
We’re continuing to receive whatever food the children leave behind at lunchtime at Springhurst.  We’ve received many apples, which go straight to the clients.  What a shame if that food had been wasted.
Spring Community Partners will be doing their fall clothing boutique at South Church this coming Saturday.  They collect clothing, particularly children’s clothing, all year, and offer it for free both in the spring and in the fall.  It’s so popular that they work for hours setting everything up and then the clothes are gone within about an hour.  The parents (plus ROBIN LARKINS) who volunteer for this effort deserve a round of applause because it’s so much work, and the clients need this clothing so desperately.  Thanks to all of you!
The Food Bank for Westchester has been offering workshops throughout the fall, focusing on topics important to food pantries such as nutrition, hygiene, statistics and other basics.  We volunteers have faithfully attended these workshops.  Lyn and Barbara just went to a statistics workshop and Eileen went to one on hygiene.  We volunteers do much more than provide food to the clients on Wednesday mornings.  There’s a lot involved in running a pantry, but it’s all worthwhile when we see the clients heading home with food for themselves and their families.
This morning was our final harvest at the Roots and Wings garden behind the church.  They’ll be putting the garden to bed until the spring.  A heartfelt thank-you to all the dedicated Roots and Wings members who plant, water and weed through three seasons for themselves and for the pantry clients.  Our clients have become much more sophisticated about different fruits and vegetables thanks to the CSA and our weekly harvests at the garden.
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November 2, 2017

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday we served a total of 25 families, including 43 adults, 36 children and 6 seniors.

We’re eternally grateful to Springhurst School, and have been for years.  This year they’re doing their Kids Can campaign again, wherein the students bring in food for the pantry three times a year.  Yesterday Nola Long, the parent who is organizing the drive this year, brought in eight huge boxes full of food, plus cleaning supplies and  a couple of boxes of diapers.  We sorted and put everything away and she took the boxes back again to use for their next campaign, which will be in February, followed by one in May.  Nola and the other parents who worked with her are very hard workers.
Plus, Sara Sellitti and Barbara Miglio (Sara is a parent and Barbara is a speech pathologist at the school) have been working for a couple of years on a project called COMPOST KIDS.  This project teaches the students about how not to waste food.  To that end, they’ve started collecting the foods the children don’t take at lunch, gathering it together and delivering it to the pantry twice a week.  It’s still at the experimental stage, but so far custodian Jose Soto has brought us whole apples, sliced apples and yogurt (which he put into the refrigerator).  And the kids help collect the food, so they know it’s going to the pantry.  So, the kids learn about ways to use still-edible leftover food; perfectly good food doesn’t go into the garbage; and our clients get to take it home and enjoy it.  What a great and educational idea they came up with!
Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  Cabrini Nursing Home is collecting food for us for Thanksgiving, and they already know they’ll be providing us with twelve turkeys.  And we volunteers are working on making Stop & Shop gift cards available for the clients, plus decorative tote bags that they can continue using.  After that, Christmas will be upon us in a second.  What a whirlwind!
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Final Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) of the season for the pantry. Thanks to Rexcroft Farm for delicious fruits and vegetables and to South Church’s Roots & Wings for organizing the CSA in the first place

final 2017 CSA

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October 27, 2017

Good afternoon, everyone – Wednesday morning we served a total of 19 families, including 31 adults, 24 children and 7 seniors.  Then in the evening we served another 10 families with 17 adults, 17 children and 2 more seniors.  This makes a total of 29 families with 48 adults, 41 children and 9 seniors.  We averaged 29 families a week in October.
We’ve already heard from Cabrini Nursing Home, offering to do a Thanksgiving food drive for us, and the Springhurst Kids Can program will also be delivering food to us shortly.  That’s good, because around the holidays we need a lot of food.  The CSA ends this month, and we’ll begin purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables for our clients through Stop & Shop’s Peapod delivery service, so we look forward to donations of other foods so we can concentrate on buying produce.  Thanks to all of you out there who donate both food and cash to us.
We’ll also be giving out Stop & Shop gift cards to our clients for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We don’t have storage space for turkeys for everybody (and not everybody wants turkey), so a gift card will enable our clients to buy whatever they want for the holidays.
Matt and Dan from Westchester Milk delivered several crates of milk, juice and yogurt to us just as the pantry was about to start.  We were able to meet Matt, who is the owner of the company, and pose for a picture with both of them.  Check out the picture on our website (www.dobbsferrypantry.org).
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