April 30, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – The month of April, during the COVID-19 pandemic – has been mind-boggling for the pantry.  We had no idea we’d receive such generosity from the community, including local restaurants and caterers.  And the makeup of the pantry itself has changed as well.  Several of us regular volunteers haven’t been physically at the pantry in weeks due to sheltering at home, and volunteers from Spring Community Partners and others from the community have stepped right up and plunged in.  It’s like CPR.  The pantry swept smoothly along with a mix of volunteers who have been with us for years and new volunteers, all working together towards the same goal – helping people the best way we can.

          Look at these statistics:  Yesterday the pantry served 100 (yes, 100) families during the day and another 6 at night.  Last week we served 95 families, and the week before it was 84.  So, we’re growing by leaps and bounds, and we’re working very hard to be able to continue giving gift cards every week to clients who live in our area, including all the new ones.  Many of these new clients never thought they’d ever need a food pantry, but now they need help and we’re there for them.
          Those 106 families consisted of 213 adults, 164 children and 34 seniors.  In the month of April we averaged 86 families a week and 326 people a week.  In March it was an average of 53 families and 198 people, and in February it was an average of 40 families and 147 people served.
          The big change is that we’re giving Stop & Shop gift cards to all the clients from Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Irvington and Greenburgh.  And we wouldn’t be able to afford that without the generosity of people on this list and in the community, who have continued to donate to us through our website, www.dobbsferrypantry.org.  Profound thanks to every one of you.
          Besides our monetary donations, the Ardsley Methodist Women sent us twenty $25 Stop & Shop gift cards, faithfully delivered by Ken Stahn.  Those gift cards will be given out this coming Wednesday.
          We’ve been offering our clients fresh produce from a CSA (community-supported agriculture) every week in the summer for several years, augmented by produce from our own kitchen garden behind the church, cultivated by South Church’s own Roots & Wings initiative.  Our clients have come to look forward to those fresh fruits and vegetables, and we’ll be doing it again this year.  FABLE Farm in Ossining will be providing weekly shares again every Sunday morning, and the pantry has ordered two shares.  The CSA will run every Sunday from the first or second week in June until the fall.  If anybody on this list hasn’t signed up but would like to, go to the Roots & Wings website at www.rivertownscommunitygardens.com.
          A special shout-out to Spring Community Partners Co-Director Robin Larkins.  She’s been with the pantry in one way or another from its inception years ago, and now, on top of everything else she does, she’s been at the front table at the pantry every Wednesday, signing people in and handing out the food and gift cards.  That’s not all.  She has compiled all our statistics every week, been present at every delivery from Feeding Westchester, and has made deliveries herself in addition to helping the clients who come to the pantry.  Yesterday, thanks again to Harpers Restaurant, there were extra prepared meals left over.  Robin personally took them to Cabrini of Westchester and dropped them off.  She’s a person with a heart of gold, and she’s become invaluable to the pantry.
          I would also like to mention that Robin’s co-director, Ellen Crane, has also been regularly with the pantry.  She and volunteer Nora Gibbons stay outside to make sure everybody stays six feet apart.  While she’s doing that she also takes time to ply her trade – photography.  She takes pictures of the volunteers doing everything they do, and then posts them on Facebook and Instagram.  We’ve never had such great publicity before.  Thank you, Ellen.
          Ellen and Robin are part of a coterie of volunteers who have amazed me during this crisis with their dedication and their ability to work together during the stress generated by this whole pandemic.  Every one of them will deserve a gold plaque when this is over.
          This week the clients, in addition to their gift cards and produce and shelf-stable food from Feeding Westchester, again went home with delicious soup and bread from caterer Renee Kashuba of MadeByRK and prepared meals from Harpers.  Harpers is part of an initiative by the name of On-The-Line Humanitarian Meal Delivery.  It was started by Michelle Adams of Harpers, and now many other restaurants, vendors and volunteers have joined in to provide food to needy Westchester communities.  You can find out more about them by visiting their website at www.on-the-line.org.
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