Local community organizations that provide necessary assistance to families will be receiving their own form of relief this season through several local drives that have developed in response to the urgent and unprecedented demand for essentials. This year's economic climate coupled with an especially chilly winter season has placed a great deal of strain on organizations whose resources are already stretched thin. From the larger February Food and Boot Drive to the smaller school and church drives, many organizations are stepping-up-to-the-plate to address the growing demand for essential items in these bleak economic conditions.
The February Food and Boot Drive, developed by Boston Cares, a volunteer service organization, in partnership with The Boston Globe, Building Impact and the Corporate Volunteer Council of Greater Boston, aims to raise 10,000 pounds of protein and 500 pairs of children's boots in twenty-eight days to benefit two non-profit relief agencies: Cradles to Crayons and the Greater Boston Food Bank.
"This is a new drive developed specifically in response to the stories we were hearing about skyrocketing requests for food and clothing that agencies throughout the region were getting from people in their communities," said Rick Wallwork, Associate Director of Boston Cares. "Clearinghouse agencies, including Cradles to Crayons and the Greater Boston Food Bank, were reporting greater demand than they've seen previously, and were having difficulty keeping certain items stocked. Canned protein and children's warm boots were two of the priorities identified where we felt we could make a significant contribution. This drive supports Cradles to Crayons, which ensures that the boots will go to agencies across the state, and the Greater Boston Food Bank's Brown Bag program, which provides supplemental food to 6,500 seniors and families each month. There are so many grass-roots agencies serving so many communities in Greater Boston, to reach them all would be difficult."
While the February Food and Boot Drive primarily supports the state-wide agencies, Cradles to Crayons and the Boston Food Bank, many organizations in Somerville are putting together drives to address local demands, here in Somerville. During the month of March, Curves of Somerville will be waiving its service fee for any new members who bring a bag of non-perishable groceries between March 2nd and March 28th. The Curves of Somerville's promotion is part of the national fitness chain's 11th Annual Curves Food Drive, which has distributed about fifty million pounds of food to local communities over the past five years.
"The Curves Food Drive is always exciting," said Betsy Tsichlis, the owner of the Somerville club.
We have a chance to help so many people at a time when food banks are lowest. Especially during these uncertain times, this food is needed more than ever. It's a win-win situation for everyone, and we're very proud to participate."
One Somerville agency that will be benefiting from local drives this year is the Project Soup Food Pantry, a service provided by the Somerville Homeless Coalition.
"Project Soup is seeing more and more unemployed families and individuals due to job cuts, high rents, utilities etc... and I anticipate this to go even higher," noted Project Soup Food Pantry Coordinator, Sandra Harris. "In May is the Post Office Food Drive, which the agency benefits greatly from. Also, the schools are running more food drives for us which is always a great help. Churches are also pitching in with food collections. Many individuals bring bags of food to the pantry and say that they know it is very hard for individuals at this time. It makes me feel good to know that there are so many caring people willing to share with all of us."