Again, I am most
appreciative and grateful for all your support over all these years.
You are having a greater impact then you realize. Every donation no
matter how small
In God We Trust!
Sandy Donovan, Founder/Director
I have always said that the food pantry is God’s Pantry not mine, even
though I am the founder and director. God works thru people
whether they realize it or not.
This is very noticeable by the huge donations we received of food and
certificates last week when the “Chelmsford Women of Today” had their
of food at Market Basket for us.
The pantry was busting at the seams on Wednesday evening from all their
donations plus the food we gathered at the food bank, bought at
supermarkets and donated
food from Jones Farm. By the end of the night from all the families
that had come we were not bursting at the seams anymore. Many
families were very happy with all
the food they received that night.
The typical week 16 ½ years ago when we first started was 39 to
42 families a week. This week we served a total of 136
households. Within these households many
families are doubling or tripling up. We have one family that
houses a family of 5 that is homeless in another community. This
makes their household a total of 13.
That is going on here, too!
Within our community there are many sad stories of the struggles people
are facing everyday. Would you ever guess by looking at them or where
they lived in this town!!
The answer is “No”.
This is why I do not take any government grants because if I did there
would be many people I could not help. The poverty threshold guideline
for a family of 4 is $22,050
up to almost $40,000 a year. It is hard enough to come to a
pantry to get help without making it harder for people to get that
help. Our government has not changed the
formula since it was first started in the late fifties. This is
strictly a political issue and many people are left without anywhere to
turn except a food pantry to help them over
the hump. People may come every week if they need to and we don’t
pick out for them they can choose their own food. We cater to
special diets to the best of our ability
and if there is a food or beverage they need I will try to buy it at
the supermarket for them. We stay open until all families are taken
care of beyond our official closing time.
We give out shampoos/conditioner, toilet paper, soap, laundry
detergent, on occasion when it is on sale, dish detergent, cleaning
items and other non-food items that people
can not afford to buy. I buy these when they are on sale to help make
things a little easier for them.
I shop at 5 supermarkets plus farms to get healthy food for our
families. Some weeks I am shopping everyday as we run out of things,
especially juices or iced tea (which
canned be heated up, too) as the demand is becoming greater every week.
If juice or a special diet item for those that are diabetic or have
high blood pressure is on sale I take
advantage of that sale, too.
They are not clients but families. I refuse to use
institutionalized words describing people coming to the pantry.
We are all one family in God. One should always remember
that could be them in that line. How would we want to be
treated? Sometimes it is not easy as I need to make people think
about the glass being half filled or half empty.
People know I am feisty but say, “You really care”, and I do. Many
tears have spilled over the years for these families when I come home
be unknowns to them. I pray for
guidance and the families, too.
Donelan’s is one of the supermarkets I go to in Lincoln and they go
beyond the mile to help and support us in anyway they can. It
makes worth the trip once a week to go there. They bend over backwards
to help us. They are unbelievable with
their support of the pantry.
Stop and Shop will be giving us the annual check for the fund raiser
they are doing for the food pantry this year. This will certainly help
our budget, too. We are very grateful for this check.
All the supermarkets do try to help but are constrained many times by
Because of all the support we receive from every aspect of our
community and beyond we are able to help many families in other areas,
too. Like fuel fill ups for heat, water bills, gas for a car (we do
this once for a family), car repairs, needed
clothes (like winter coats) and other emergencies that come up for
families if there isn’t anywhere else to turn for this needed
help. They are given gift certificates never
cash for these items.
I work with St. Vincent DePaul Society at St. Mary’s in Chelmsford and
Our Lady of Hope in Ipswich. This frees up their monies to help
in other areas.
We never turn anyone away and we always have enough food to help out.
Families tell me they save an average of $50.00 to $100.00 a week on
food by coming to us. This frees up money for other things that are
needed or if they don’t have
any money to speak of it gives their families a full stomach. For
a single person it is $25 to $40 a week.
I will open for emergencies on the days we are closed. I don’t
want anyone going hungry if I can help it. It isn’t any fun to tell
your children, “We have no food left or what is left we must save until
tomorrow”. I have been there when I lived in
Michigan and my former husband was laid-off because he made to much
money for food stamps on unemployment. There wasn’t any such thing as a
food pantry in Michigan in 1980-1981. The food budget for ten of us
went from $200.00 plus a week to $25.00 a week. It gives a
person a “gift of understanding of those waiting at the pantry for
You have no idea how you have helped many families. I see more and more
children asking for food for us instead of presents for their birthday
parties. That tells me parents are instilling the gifts to others
instead of themselves. Parents are such role models and don’t
realize what an impact this has in all areas of their families.
To make a monetary donation please make the check payable to
Chelmsford Community Exchange, PO Box 394, Chelmsford, MA 01824.
We are still in the Old Town Hall, One North Road, Chelmsford thanks to
our Town Manager, Paul Cohen. We are very grateful for this as it keeps
us centrally located. We do have people walking to our pantry for food
and this makes it easier for them and easier for people to donate to
us. For further information go to our web site at:
Chelmsford Community Exchange Inc.
Add it your favorites and it just says "The Pantry".