February 22, 2021 – Hilltop Thrift Shop at Zion Episcopal Church

Here is important information about the well-known Hilltop Thrift Shop at Zion Episcopal Church, 55 Cedar Street in Dobbs Ferry:

The Thrift Shop is now open from Monday through Saturday (closed Sunday) between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Due to COVID, only two shoppers are allowed in at a time (wearing a mask), so it’s important to make an appointment. The last appointment of the day starts at 12:30. Each appointment lasts 30 minutes.

There are two ways to make an appointment, each involving the Internet. You can go to signup.com/go/nRxWERV, which will take you to the Thrift Shop’s appointment page, or you can email Lesley Walter, Thrift Shop volunteer, at comprazion123@gmail.com, and she’ll help you make an appointment.

People who don’t have access to the Internet will have to just show up at the door during those hours and hope they can be allowed in. If there are shoppers there they’ll have to wait until they’re allowed in.

It’s not ideal for people who don’t have the Internet, but at least they’re open! Many people love this thrift shop, so it’s great that they’re making an effort to help people.

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February 19, 2021

Good afternoon, everybody – This past Wednesday was a nice day again, and we were able to serve 115 families, consisting of 234 adults, 148 children and 37 seniors, for a total of 419 people.  A record 42 deliveries were made to people who, due to illness, quarantine or some other issue, couldn’t get to us.

In a hopeful sign that the pandemic will end someday, there’s now a large bin at Stop & Shop for the pantry.   They had taken away our other bin months ago due to COVID.  The new bin is near the self-checkout section.  I assume many people on this list shop at Stop & Shop, so please remember to pick up a few extra items to leave in the bin for us.  We’re glad that Stop & shop has found a place for a bin, and this one is much bigger than the previous one.  That’s good because we’re serving many more families and we need more food.  Thank you, Stop & Shop.

Speaking of getting back to normal, a group of us pantry volunteers met last night with the South Presbyterian Church Session (its governing body) to discuss and plan for how the church can be open for church services while the pantry is still using the sanctuary as a work space.  Volunteer Duke Coffey and Co-Director Vera Halpenny, together with several other volunteers, have come up with some exciting ideas for how the sanctuary can serve both at once.  We’ll keep you posted.

As I mentioned last week, the members of the Peace Islands Initiative donated 500 packets of sanitizing hand wipes and we started giving them out this week.  The clients were delighted to have them, and we have enough to continue offering them for a couple of weeks.

The Village of Dobbs Ferry has provided Village residents with a survey, to be filled out anonymously, exploring people’s experiences with the Dobbs Ferry Police Department.  And on Thursday, February 25 at 6:00 p.m. there will be a public forum over Zoom to discuss the survey and people’s thoughts about it.  I’m happy that the Village is doing this, and I’m sure this will provide the Village and the Police Department with important information.  In an effort to reach as many residents as possible, Alissa Fasman, Assistant to the Village Administrator, sent a supply of the survey, in English and Spanish, for us to offer to our clients who live in Dobbs Ferry, and many of them have taken the form.  If anybody on this list would like to attend the Forum on February 25, just visit the Village’s website at www.dobbsferry.com.  Click on “current events” and you’ll find a calendar, where you’ll click on February 25 and you’ll find the Zoom invitation right there.  You can also phone in if you don’t want to participate through Zoom.

We often put informational flyers in with the bag of fruits and vegetables taken home by each client.  This week they received two flyers – one was from the Zion Episcopal Hilltop Thrift Shop at 55 Cedar Street, Dobbs Ferry, advertising a yearly sale on their items.  Many of our clients love the thrift shop, and maybe people on this list do, too.  I didn’t get to see the flyer, so I don’t know when the sale is taking place, but I’m sure a quick call to Zion (914-693-9320) would provide all the information you need.

The other flyer was from Loretta’s Mane Station (10 Cedar Street, Dobbs Ferry, 914-591-5212), offering a one-time free haircut to any pantry client.  She’s offering to do this on Mondays in February and March, which is the day she’s closed.  I just checked with her and she’s already scheduled several of our clients who are thrilled with the chance to have either their or their child’s hair cut.  A big thank-you to Loretta Gaspari for being so generous to our clients.

Everybody keep your fingers crossed that we don’t have any more snowstorms that would stop us from opening the pantry!

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February 11, 2021

Good afternoon, everybody – Last Wednesday we were not able to open the Food Pantry due to the storm.  This has only happened a couple of times in the ten years since we’ve been open, but now that the pantry is outdoors we’re much more vulnerable to bad weather.  This was the year when we needed a mild winter, but we’ve had the opposite in February.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed for an improvement from here on in.
Yesterday was a nice day, and  we served 140 families with 279 adults, 181 children and 48 seniors, totaling 508 people.  Our hardworking volunteers delivered food to 40 families. 

The Scarsdale Woman’s Club collected more food for us this past Monday, and a caravan of cars arrived yesterday, just like in the past, with each car chock full of shelf-stable foods, plus a whole supply of gift cards for us to use on food.  Vera and I met over Zoom with the club’s philanthropy group last week, and the members were extremely engaged and full of questions.  That club has been steadily in existence since 1918.

Yesterday we also received a gift of 100 individually-wrapped blankets from the Director of Operations of a Mount Vernon charter school.  His school had received thousands of these blankets, donated by Delta Airlines.  They must be donating blankets because fewer people are flying.  Right now we’re scaling back what we offer at the pantry because we can’t set up as many tables as we usually do due to the snow.  But at some point we’ll manage to offer these blankets and lots of the other freebies we usually have for our clients.

Another donation we received was from the Peace Islands Institute, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging diversity and mutual respect.  They brought us 500 packets of sanitary hand wipes to give out to the clients.  Unfortunately, they arrived so late that all of us at the pantry had gone home and they had to leave the packages in the bin in front of the church.  The PII has worked closely with Woodlands, and I’m sure we’ll be working together with them in the future.  A couple of them had wanted to stay and help out at the pantry, but we’ll leave that for another time.

One of our volunteers has been in touch with a wonderful organization by the name of the Sharing Shelf (www.sharingshelf.org).  They’re located in Port Chester and they provide clothing, backpacks, diapers, feminine hygiene products and other items to needy families.  The hope is that they may be able to help with the twice-yearly clothing boutique offered by SPRING Community Partners.  When warm weather comes, they could at least have a table at the pantry to talk to our clients about what they need.  The Sharing Shelf volunteers could develop a relationship with some of our clients.  I see the beginnings of a warm relationship between us, and a great help to our clients!

Has anybody on this list gotten their hair cut at Loretta’s Mane Station in Dobbs Ferry (10 Cedar Street, 914-591-5212)?  She has driven past the pantry on Wednesdays and wanted to help, so she created a flyer, which we’ll offer to the clients next week, offering a one-time free haircut to any client of the pantry on Mondays (when she’s usually closed) in February.  Let’s see how many clients take her up on her offer.  And hopefully, when some of the clients go back to work, they can continue on with her.  thank you, Loretta!

Let’s hope we can be open every Wednesday for the rest of the winter!

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January 29, 2021

Good afternoon, everybody – This past Wednesday we served 152 families, including 306 adults, 196 children and 56 seniors, for a total of 558 people served.  Our beloved delivery volunteers took food to 37 families.  In January we served a total of 461 families and 1,669 people.  We averaged 115 families and 417 people per week this month.

I received a call from a contact tracer, reporting that there is a family in quarantine in our area.  Robin immediately went to Stop & Shop for them and Roma put together a supply of food from our stores at the pantry.  The family was relieved to have food to eat while they must remain in the house.  We’ll be delivering food to them as long as they are in quarantine, as well as possibly running other errands for them.  And if they still need us after the quarantine is over, we’ll still be there for them.

We’re also adding a  local100-year-old woman onto our delivery list.  That’s how the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry rolls.

This past week a caravan of pantry volunteers drove to the Shames JCC and accepted 150 prepacked  Blizzard Boxes, which were all given out to our clients on Wednesday.  The boxes were adorably decorated by the JCC members who packed them.  I sent Stacey Merchant a thank-you, and maybe we’ll have more Boxes next year.  The Boxes were originally packed in preparation for the JCC’s Martin Luther King Day of Service.  And what a great service they provided, to us and others!

Ardsley Methodist did another food drive for us last Saturday.  Ken Stahn came on Monday, with his car packed with over $1,000 worth of food, plus cash and gift cards for us.  He told us that they’ve been helped by the local cub scouts.  I don’t know what we’d do without the Ardsley Methodist Women and all the groups that pitch in to help them, like the Ardsley PBA and the scouts.  And they’re going to do it all again in February, despite the cold!

We’ve also received several deliveries of food from a group called Doin’ Good in the Hood.  Erica, the director of the group, has worked very hard to help the pantry, and we are so grateful to her for her energy and determination.

This Monday we’ll be receiving our first delivery of food from Driscoll Foods.  They serve many pantries and soup kitchens in the area, and they’ve added us to their list.  
And this coming Thursday, February 4, Vera and I will be meeting remotely with the Philanthropy group of the Scarsdale Woman’s Club to educate the members a little more about how we started, what we’ve accomplished and what’s changed for us during the pandemic (a lot).  The Woman’s Club has done multiple food drives for us, and they bring all the food to us from Scarsdale in a parade of cars.  They are a cheerful and hard-working group, determined to help wherever they can.

So far, the pantry has dodged a bullet as far as snowstorms.  It’s important because the pantry is all outdoors.  Let’s hope February is as kind to us.

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January 21, 2021

Good afternoon, everybody – Yesterday we served 93 families, including 186 adults, 125 children and 33 seniors, for a total of 344 people served.  Our stalwart delivery volunteers made 34 deliveries to clients who couldn’t get to the pantry.

Sadly, I must start on a tragic note.  In December a young family and their children volunteered enthusiastically at the pantry.  They loved the experience and hoped to come again.  Instead, a few days ago the young husband and father passed away unexpectedly.  The family had been so happy with the pantry that they’ve asked that donations be made to the pantry in his memory.  We’ve already received several donations.  Nobody expects a man in the prime of life to be struck down this way, and our hearts go out to the widow and their children.  We are profoundly grateful that in their grief they’ve thought of us and our clients at the pantry.

In the midst of all this, this past Saturday there was a wonderful concert for the pantry’s benefit performed at Jazz Forum Arts in Tarrytown.  I’m sure many people on this list were there and were transported up to the sky, as I was, by the mastery of the artists and how they meshed with each other.  Every one of the artists performed for free, and we at the pantry are touched by how much they care for the pantry.  Yesterday Mark Morganelli and Ellen Prior came to the pantry with a check for us.  We owe Mark and Ellen a debt of gratitude for working so hard to bring a New York City-level club to Tarrytown.  My husband and I saw Freddy Cole there, and it was magical.

A couple of weeks ago we were contacted by the Shames JCC in Tarrytown.  The United Jewish Appeal organizes the packing of Blizzard Boxes every year around Martin Luther King Day.  The JCC wanted to know how many boxes we’d like.  We asked for 150 boxes, and they were picked up at the JCC this morning by our volunteers.   Our gratitude to all the individuals who packed those boxes for us.  Apparently, it’s usually an in-person event, which must be very merry, but this year, of course, it was all done separately by individuals and families and then collected at the JCC.  If they contact us again next year, we’ll ask for more!  Thanks, JCC!

Our friends at Ardsley United Methodist Church are always there for us.  This coming Saturday, the 23rd, even in the middle of winter, they’re doing a food drive for us.  You can drop off food for us Saturday between 11:00 and 1:00 at Ardsley Methodist at 525 Ashford Avenue, Ardsley.  Every time they do a food drive for us Ken Stahn ends up delivering all the food (plus cash and Stop & Shop gift cards) to us, packed into his car.  Thank you, Ken, and thanks to the United Methodist Women and to all the shoppers who will drop off food for us.

And a shout-out to Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings.  Every week they’ve been helping us with fresh produce.  This week we asked them instead to donate shelf-stable milk and presto!  It was done.  Cantor Robin Joseph and the TBS Social Action Committee have been true friends of the pantry for a long time.

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January 20, 2021 – Mark Morganelli and Ellen Prior delivering the proceeds from the January 16 concert at Jazz Forum Arts for the benefit of the Pantry

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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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