January 15, 2021

Good afternoon, everybody – This past Wednesday we served a total of 112 families, including 224 adults, 149 children and 30 seniors, for a total of 403 people.  We delivered food to 33 homes, with the help of five volunteers who load the food into their cars and drive throughout the area to people who need food but for some reason (illness, etc.) can’t get to the pantry.  A year ago on January 9, 2019 we served 24 families.  What a difference!

This past Saturday night there was a virtual concert called “Diversity Sings”, organized by our friends at Woodlands Community Temple.  It was music by people from many different cultures, and it was heartwarming.  The concert was free, but people were encouraged to donate to the Pantry.  We received many donations as a result of that concert, and donations are still coming in.

Woodlands itself has donated generously to the Pantry as well in order to help us through the winter.  The donation was collected from many of the congregants of the synagogue, and Rabbi Billy Dreskin said that their hope is that the contribution “will help many to put food on their table”.  Deepest thanks to the Rabbis, the Social Action Committee and all the members of this most caring of groups, and rest assured, Woodlands, that many have been and will be helped by your long-time support.

In just about every email I mention Ardsley United Methodist Church because they’re always standing beside us.  They’ve done many food drives for us, packing all the food into Ken Stahn’s SUV, who delivers it to us, together with cash and gift cards.  Even in the cold of January they’re planning to do another food drive on Saturday the 23rd from 11:00 to 1:00, with the help of the local cub scouts.  Then, if people are able to come out in the cold and donate food, they’ll do it again sometime in February.  

Speaking of SUV’s, the Scarsdale Woman’s Club has done several food drives for us as well.  They learned about us from Judy Whelan of Ardsley Methodist.  They gather all the food and drive it over, packed into five SUV’s, along with multiple gift cards.  They’re planning on doing this every month for the foreseeable future.  May hat is off to anyone who does a food drive for us.  It takes a tremendous amount of hard work, patience and dedication.

This past Wednesday our clients took home delicious prepared meals from Scaramella’s in Dobbs Ferry.  These meals were provided through the generosity of one anonymous donor from The Landing.  The people at The Landing have been caring for us since the summer, and we are grateful to all of them, including this anonymous donor, who has helped us before.

Every Tuesday Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings helps us with produce.  Two weeks ago they brought enough avocados for all our clients, and this past Wednesday it was lettuce.  They’re planning on helping us with whatever we most need every week.

I hope everybody has purchased their tickets for this Saturday’s virtual jazz fundraiser for the Pantry at 8:00 p.m. at Jazz Forum Arts.  Tickets are only $20 and some of the most outstanding jazz artists are contributing their performances for the sake of the pantry.  If you haven’t done so, order your ticket at jazzforumarts.org/tickets.  See you there!

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January 1, 2021

Good afternoon and happy New Year, everybody – It’s been a while since we’ve posted due to the overwhelming demands of running a food pantry during a pandemic, but we’ve never missed a week, and here we are in 2021.  For the month of December we served a total of 598 families, including 1,196 adults, 777 children and 215 seniors, for a total of 2,187 people served.  Throughout 2020 we served an average of 93 households and 355 people per week.  In 2019 we were averaging 36 families and 129 people per week.  It’s taken a huge number of volunteers, showing up week after week, month after month, to accomplish this.  The members of SPRING Community Partners have been out of this world with their generosity.  I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I am with the caliber and the dedication of the people who come to help at the pantry.  We’ll have to make a documentary sometime, because these people are stars.

We could never have done this without a tremendous show of support from the Village of Dobbs Ferry, the Dobbs Ferry Police, every church and temple in the area, so many clubs, groups and neighborhoods, and the thousands of families and individuals who pulled together and helped us, both with food and monetary donations.  And we’re still being supported even as we speak.  I’m going to try to name some of the groups that have gone far out of their way to help us.  Others can chime in after this has been posted to add the groups and people I’ve left out.  

Here are some names that come to my mind:  Woodlands Community Temple; Irvington Scout Troop 55; Scarsdale Women’s Club; Temple Beth Shalom; The Village of Ardsley (organized by Rajvi Patel and Callie Patras with the help of Mayor nancy Kaboolian); Ardsley United Methodist, in particular Judy Whelan and Ken Stahn;  Doin’ Good in the Hood (thanks to Erica Razak); Dobbs Ferry for Social Justice (Marissa O’Hare and Kevin Messam); Hudco (Christy Knell); the South Presbyterian Church Faith and Justice Learning Lab (Marie-Louise Miller); Sam’s Restaurant; Hudson Social (our second successful restaurant fundraiser); Michelle Adams and On The Line (local restaurants have provided prepared meals for the clients); The Landing (including one anonymous donor who is still helping); Edgemont Rotary; the Masters School; the First Unitarian Society of Westchester; The Greenburgh Hebrew Temple; Jazz Forum Arts; Aldersgate Methodist; Dobbs Ferry Lutheran; the Irvington Farmers Market;  the Community Nursery School; and so many more.  You wouldn’t believe the outpouring of caring and concern that we have experienced since the pandemic began.  All I can say is thank you.

I’d like to especially highlight the support and backing of South Presbyterian Church. They’ve turned over the entire sanctuary to the Pantry.  I posted a picture on the website of the pews, full of food and boxes.  Eternal thanks to the entire congregation and to Drew Paton, our pastor.

I hope everyone has already ordered their tickets for the virtual benefit jazz concert at Jazz Forum Arts on Saturday, January 16 at 8:00 p.m.  Tickets are $20, and it will be a mind-boggling concert with some of the biggest names in the field of jazz – Mark Morganelli, David Janeway, Ralph Lalama, John Patitucci, Gary Smulyan, Ron Vincent and Nicole Pasternak!  If you haven’t ordered your ticket, go to jazzforumarts.org/tickets and place your order.  Then sit back on January 16 with a nice glass of wine or something to eat, and let the music carry you away.  And you’ll be helping the pantry at the same time.

So glad 2020 is over with.  Things just have to get better in 2021.

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Sanctuary at South Presbyterian Church during the 2020 holidays – only boxes and food in the pews. Thank you, South Church, from the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry

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Nicole and Micah Spellman donating cash and checks donated from many residents of The Landing on December 15. Thanks so much to The Landing for your help during the holidays!

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December 3, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – Yesterday we served 113 families, consisting of 215 adults, 150 children and 39 seniors, for a total of 404 people.  The day before Thanksgiving we served 157 families, and I have a feeling we’ll hit those numbers this month also, especially since we’ll be giving out Stop & Shop gift cards on December 16 and 23.  We delivered food to 30 families yesterday.  Our beloved delivery people were hard at work.

I mentioned last week that Edgemont Rotary Club went to Hunts Point Market last week and bought enough produce for all our families.  They delivered it in a truck.  And they stayed to help serve the clients.  When the pantry was finished we still had some vegetables and fruits left over.  Robin Larkins contacted a few restaurants to see if anybody could use the produce.  Sergio at Piccola Trattoria (41 Cedar Street, 914-674-8427) not only took the food but returned it yesterday, made into butternut squash soup, pasta alfredo and apple tarts.  So our clients got to enjoy the produce two weeks in a row.  Thank you, Sergio!

Plan on doing some shopping this weekend at Stop & Shop in Dobbs Ferry.  The Dobbs Ferry for Social Justice group is having a four-day food drive for the pantry, organized by Marissa O’Hare and Kevin Messam!  From Friday, December 4 through Monday, December 7 you can do your shopping, pick up a few extra items and drop them into the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry box that will be prominently displayed.  We’ve had food drives at Stop & Shop before and shoppers have been incredibly generous.  I have a particularly good feeling about a drive that goes on for four days. HudCo, the coworking space at 145 Palisade Street, has joined the effort and has collected food for us there, too, thanks to Christy Knell.

And on Saturday, December 5, after you finish your shopping at Stop & Shop, you can drop over to Ardsley United Methodist Church on Ashford Avenue in Ardsley and donate some food for us at their food drive between 10:00 and 1:00.  The Ardsley Women’s group at AUMC has done several of these drives for us and Ken Stahn arrives with his car packed to the gills with food for us plus Stop & Shop gift cards and cash.  This is the last drive they’ll be doing for a while because it’s hard to do a food drive in the cold, so we’ll really appreciate whatever food they bring to us.

We so appreciate the caring and support of the entire community in Dobbs Ferry.  Residents of The Landing are doing a monetary drive for us, and the neighbors of the Walden Woods complex did a collection throughout the month of November, which they just dropped off to us.  On top of that, a woman and her son were driving by yesterday, saw the line, and drove to Stop & Shop to buy food for us and bring it right back.  
Our cup runneth over but, believe me, we’ll be busy this month and we need all the food and monetary donations we can get.  A virtual hug to everyone who’s helping us!

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Feed the Children poster, created by Hastings artist Diane Brawarsky (d.brawarsky@gmail.com), proudly displayed on my office wall. It’s $75 and proceeds will be split between Family to Family and the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry

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November 27, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – This past Wednesday, which was the day before Thanksgiving, we served a record-breaking 157 families, including 319 adults, 206 children and 62 seniors, for a total of 587 people served.  The evening pantry accounted for 19 of those families.  For comparison, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving last year we served 47 families.  Look how we’ve grown!  Also, we never used to make deliveries.  This week it was 34, more than ever before.
The days leading up to Wednesday were intense, to say the least.  We don’t have storage space for turkeys, but the previous week we gave whole chickens to all the clients.  We also wanted to give a pie to every client, the way we did last year.  Last year we volunteers contributed the pies.  This year, with so many more clients, it was much more complicated.  Volunteer Gretchen Skaggs headed up the campaign to ask for a donation of pies from the community, and people came from everywhere!  My block of Ogden Place rounded up 33 pies just among the neighbors.  We ended up with enough pies to send every client home with two pies instead of one.  Thanks so much to Gretchen for organizing this exhausting feat.
Speaking of exhausting feats, ALL the volunteers, both from SPRING Community Partners and from the pantry, bent over backwards to pull together this pre-Thanksgiving pantry.  The day before the pantry, volunteers including Duke Coffey, Co-Director Vera Halpenny, Robin Larkins, Roma Halatyn and Suzanna Halatyn, were at South Church throughout the entire day, from early morning until the evening.  I wasn’t there, so there may have been more volunteers whose names I’ve missed.  And, as drained as they were, they all showed up the next day to work at the Pantry.  This pantry has attracted a mighty group of people who are just selfless in their willingness to do everything that has to be done to achieve a successful pantry every week.  I’m in awe of all of them!
And beyond the pantry volunteers, the organizations, clubs and groups who all reached out to us to see how they could help!  Here are some names that come to my mind:  Woodlands Community Temple; Irvington Scout Troop 55; Scarsdale Women’s Club; Temple Beth Shalom; The Village of Ardsley (organized by Rajvi Patel and Callie Patras with the help of Mayor nancy Kaboolian); Ardsley United Methodist; Doin’ Good in the Hood (thanks to Erica Rashad); Dobbs Ferry for Social Justice (Marissa O’Hare and Kevin Messam); Hudco (Christy Knell); the South Presbyterian Church Faith and Justice Learning Lab (Marie-Louise Miller); Hudson Social (our second successful restaurant fundraiser); Michelle Adams and On The Line (the restaurants provided Thanksgiving side dishes for all the clients); and I’ve missed some.  And this list leaves out all the individuals who showed up, unbidden, with cash, checks, gift cards, pies and food.  And diapers and baby wipes. One woman donated three cases of feminine products.  The Steinbergs from Ardsley brought eggs, as they have done for years.  And so many more!
Edgemont now has a new Rotary Club.  One of their first projects was to help us at the pantry get ready for Thanksgiving.  And help us they did.  We asked them to help us provide fresh produce for all the clients.  They traveled to Hunts Point Market in the Bronx and several other places, and brought back a truckload of all kinds of fruits and vegetables.  We were bowled over.  And pies too!  Then, the next day, Rotary members Yasmin Pacia, Atul Saxema, Sanjay Arya and other members arrived to help serve the clients.  Edgemont is lucky to have a new Rotary Club with such determined and hard-working people.  A virtual hug to them all.
I have a feeling 2021 will be a much better year.  Look how it’s starting out:  On Saturday, January 16 from 8:00 p.m. until 9:30, Mark Morganelli’s Jazz Forum will be hosting an All-Star Benefit Concert for the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry.  Look at this line-up:  David Janeway, piano; Ralph Lalama, tenor saxophone;  Mark Morganelli, trumpet; John Pattituci, bass; Gary Smulyan, baritone saxophone; Ron Vincent, drums, and Nicole Pasternak, vocals.  All the musicians will donate their performances!  Tickets will cost $20, and throughout the concert the www.dobbsferrypantry.org pantry link will appear so that people can donate to the pantry.  Watch for the advertisements on social media and elsewhere and purchase your tickets.  What a great way to spend a cold winter evening!!
One last comment – now that we’ve started doing deliveries we’ve discovered four of the most awesome volunteers who are willing to drive hither, thither and yon to make sure people get their food.  Their names are Anthony Corradina, Kevin Messam, Nora Gibbons and Suzy Powers.  On Wednesdays they take off with their cars (truck in Nora’s case) packed to the gills with boxes and bags (and pies).  Not to mention Robin Larkins herself, who spends most of Wednesday mornings organizing these deliveries.  She’s even made labels with the clients’ names and addresses.  Is it just me, or is this a stupendous show of love for the community?  We should make a documentary about the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry!
Now to gear up for the December holidays! 

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Matt Kay, me and Tommy DiRusso, son of Ron DiRusso at Hudson Social

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November 12, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – Yesterday we served a total of 107 hungry families, including 215 adults, 140 children and 44 seniors, for a total of 399 people.  We delivered food to 19 families, including the delicious prepared meals, which were provided this week by Maud’s Tavern in Hastings, thanks to Michelle Adams of On The Line.  Every week we’ve had new families applying, and they’ve all recently been from the area, so they’re welcome to keep coming.  If someone applies from a different area we give them food and information about food pantries for them to continue visiting near where they live.  This just brings home to me that even this far into the pandemic there are people who only now are coming to the conclusion that they need help with food in order to keep going.  We’ll help them all for as long as we can, supported by donations from the people on this list as well as groups and caring individuals in the community.

The next two Wednesdays we’ll be giving Stop & Shop gift cards as well as food, and we expect many more people.  Our clients really look forward to those gift cards so that they can buy whatever they choose at Stop & Shop.  It’s particularly important around the holidays.  We don’t have space to store turkeys for so many people, but we will be offering whole chickens plus the gift cards.  During Covid it’s hard to make the holidays festive, but we’ll do whatever we can.

If you remember what a wonderful time we had at the fundraiser at Sam’s Restaurant on Thursday, October 15, you’ll head straight for Hudson Social at 11 Station Plaza in Dobbs on Thursday, November 19.  They’re open all day, even in the morning for commuters, and we’ll be getting a percentage of whatever food or drinks are purchased that day.  They’ve got plenty of outdoor seating with heaters, plus they offer takeout and, beginning November 16, they’ll be providing delivery through Grubhub.  Another opportunity to skip cooking and help the Pantry at the same time!  See you there!

Marissa O’Hare and Kevin Messam and their colleagues at Dobbs Ferry for Social Justice have scheduled a food drive for us at Stop & Shop throughout the weekend from Friday, December 4 through Monday, December 7.  We’ve had food drives in the past during which we’ve received an amazing amount of food.  The shoppers in Dobbs Ferry are a generous lot, and what’s nice is that we don’t have to check the food for expiration dates because it was all just bought at Stop & Shop!  Thanks in advance to everybody who will make it to Stop & Shop that weekend and will help us with some extra food.  And thanks so much to Marissa, Kevin and the rest of the group for dedicating themselves to helping us for an entire weekend!

We were visited yesterday by Marie-Louise Miller, Director of the South Church Faith and Justice Learning Lab.  Her goal, and ours, is to find ways that young people, teenagers especially, can help us at the Pantry.  Due to the need for social distancing, we can’t have a lot of volunteers, either inside or outside of the church, but Marie-Louise, together with Robin Larkins, Co-Director Vera Halpenny and I will come up with safe ideas that will enable the kids and their parents to be a helpful presence for us at the Pantry.  We need them!

We’ve got some plans in the works for exciting fundraisers in 2021.  Stay tuned!

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The Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry will have another fundraiser at a restaurant! HUDSON SOCIAL, located at 11 Station Plaza in Dobbs Ferry, will host an all-day fundraiser for the Pantry on Thursday, November 19! They’ve got plenty of outdoor seating and even a firepit, so come on down. Another opportunity to avoid cooking dinner.

Hudson Social is open all day, including in the morning for commuters, so you’ll have plenty of time to get something to eat and help the Pantry at the same time. We were hoping to be able to provide some extra food and Stop & Shop gift cards for our clients during the holidays, so a fundraiser at Hudson Social at this time would be a tremendous help.

Hudson Social also offers takeout if you’d rather eat at home, and beginning on November 16 they’ll offer delivery through Grubhub.

Thanks in anticipation to everybody who will be helping us and getting something delicious to eat (and drink) at the same time!

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