Thanksgiving Angels Serve Need in Berkshire County
On Monday, November 20, a coalition of Berkshire County meal sites, religious organizations, social agencies and private organizations hosted Thanksgiving Angels at South Congregational Church in Pittsfield. For the fifth consecutive year, holiday food items, including turkeys and fixings, were distributed to hundreds of people who waited in cold, snowy conditions to receive holiday meal provisions.
Thanksgiving Angels was established to equitably distribute holiday meal donations to as many people in need as possible. Prior to the program’s inception, “Some people were getting five donated turkeys from organizations and others were getting none,” explains Mary Wheat, volunteer site manager for South Congregational Church’s food pantry. So the local giving community decided to join forces to give out goods in one location at a scheduled date and time.
Typically, this food distribution serves about 1,400 families. However, due to bad weather this year, that number dropped to about 1,200 families (approximately 4800 individuals). “People don’t like to bring their little ones out in weather like this,” Wheat noted.
Ellen Merritt, executive director of the Christian Center in Pittsfield said that the program is beneficial to many—giving food insecure individuals an opportunity to enjoy a holiday meal that others take for granted; and allowing the helping community to “feel compassion” for the community for whom they serve.
“We are better when we are kind, compassionate and generous in spirit,” Merritt said.
The Food Bank provided 9,500 lbs of fresh, farm-grown produce to Thanksgiving Angels, including cabbages, potatoes and celery. This is in addition to the regular depot deliveries made to Berkshire County meal sites on a monthly basis. Volunteers, including students whose school days had been cancelled because of the weather, helped distribute the produce.
“There were a lot of people who told us they’d have nothing without this or maybe just hot dogs for Thanksgiving, and we gave them staples,” Wheat said.