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Economy Fosters ‘Family’ Helping Family
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Last edited: Friday, December 10, 2010
Posted: Friday, December 10, 2010

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The numbers of people asking for help from The Family Pantry rises, up 3 percent overall from last year, with about 1,000 families coming to the pantry in October and November.

by Sara Webb Quest

HARWICH --- As the holiday season begins, executive director of The Family Pantry Mary Anderson reports families’ needs continue to rise due to the economic downturn. She also shares her optimism, and thanks to those who helped make last year fulfilling.

“We’re still seeing about 100 new families each month,“ Anderson says.
“Some used to be donors and have lost their jobs or become ill. We had a client recently and it was his first time in the pantry. He was very apologetic, voicing how he felt others may need more than him. After he received his food, he returned to the volunteer who interviewed him and gave $5. When the volunteer brought the donation to me, the volunteer was so inspired, he gave a small donation too.”

This story fits perfectly with Anderson’s motto of “everyone gives a little; it adds up to a lot.” She adds, “Some people donate $5 or $10, but it all helps.”

Much of the seasonal help fortunately stayed the same this year, including Holy Trinity fifth graders’ assistance in setting up Thanksgiving baskets, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School student-council members filling them, and Cape Cod Cranberry Harvest donating 20 cases of cranberry jelly for the baskets.

The numbers of people asking for help from The Family
Pantry nevertheless rises, up 3 percent overall from last year, with about 1,000 families coming to the pantry in October and November.

“Since 2007,” explains Anderson, “40 percent more clients have come in, with the big jump being 30 percent between 2007 and 2008. To this day, the number hasn’t started to drop.”

According to Anderson, of all the households coming in, two-thirds have at least one person working. Whatever the case, they can’t seem to pull the money together with the expensive cost of living on Cape Cod.

Now, the economy’s hit a new wave of people who were “OK a couple of years ago and are now very reluctant to get help.”

The Family Pantry involves clients, volunteers, and donors and, says Anderson, “it’s nice when clients are eventually able to support themselves because they do come back and donate.”

Last year, The Cape Cod Chronicle’sHelping Neighbors fund-drive for the pantry set a goal. Although Anderson admits “we didn’t quite make it at first,” she adds gratefully, “after The Chronicle wrote an editorial, we blew by the goal! We are very grateful.”

In fact, it’s because of The Chronicle’s fund drive that the pantry has been able to maintain clients coming every three weeks instead of last year’s four.

Exclaims Anderson, “The Cape Cod Chronicle’s ‘Helping Neighbors’campaign has been our biggest funding source of

To meet the growing need of Cape families, however, the number of volunteers who assist at The Family Pantry has necessarily grown in the last year, from 200 to over 230.

“The busy afternoon shifts are busier than they used to be,” explains Anderson, “and overall, all shifts are feeling the difference with so much demand for food.”

With Saturdays drawing 80 to 100 people, she wants to encourage people to come during the new Thursday hours, from 5 to 7 p.m..

“Coming to the Thursday shift alleviates wait times on other days,” she says.

For information about The Family Pantry -- including receiving assistance, volunteering, or donating -- call 508-432-6519, check or send a tax-deductible contribution to 133 Queen Anne Rd., Harwich, MA 02645.

To give to The Cape Cod Chronicle’s “Helping Neighbors” fund for The Family Pantry, cut the donation coupon in section two of this week’s issue, or send a check payable to Family Pantry, to 133 Queen Anne Rd., Harwich, MA 02645 or The Cape Cod Chronicle, 60-C Munson Meeting Way, Chatham, MA 02633.

This Week’s Donations Hyora Publications, $700 Anonymous, $110 In Honor of the Ballentines, $100 Frederick Miller, $300 Jane Roiter, $100 Carole Sgroi, $20 Doris Sperber, $50 Week 1 Total - $1,380


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