To the Editor:
The Westport Food Shelf was started over 25 years ago by the ecumenical efforts of the Westport Federated Church and St. Philip Neri Catholic Community. We were brought together for the purpose of assisting families or individuals in need of immediate and temporary assistance.
We started with a small stipend from Father Nugent himself and the Federated Church had a small fund that could be used. As needed, I would stop at the local (Grand Union at the time) store for groceries, spending on what families needed. There was always the collection of canned goods and boxed items that were very useful.
Our Thanksgiving service together was always beneficial, providing both food items and money to keep us going. We were given food from “government surplus” for a few years and then made aware of the Northeastern Regional Food Bank in Latham. We applied to them and were given a very generous grant of $1,600. It has since been cut to $600.
Our monies and food come from organizations. The Federated Church women, Dogwood Bakery, Camp Dudley, the Elizabethtown and Westport Garden Club, Lady’s Bridge Group, the Bishop’s fund, the Masons, postal workers, the Boy Scouts plus many private individuals. We have received two grants for $500 each through the food bank and one person here in Westport gave $100 to the food bank on our behalf.
The students and staff of Westport Central School are not to be left out. They are very generous and these food items and monies get us through the winter, and I know this all comes from you.
We average about 15 families a month, more during the holidays and less in the summer. We give out 16 to 18 large turkey baskets at Thanksgiving and more at Christmas along with some clothes (hats, mittens, etc.) to certain families. Most of this is donated, we usually only have the expense of the turkeys and some condiments that we purchase.
I have found this community to be very generous. When the people of this town know there is a need help comes from the strangest places. We are truly blessed to have people that have a real concern for those in need. I have never tried to hoard food and there have been times when we have gotten pretty low, but there is always enough so we never turn anyone away empty handed.
Our group of workers are Rick and Susan Frisbie, Tammy Hoskins, Linda Adams, Dan McCormick and myself. We have always had lots of volunteers (students, scouts and individuals) to help. So again, we are so fortunate to have the program we have here in Westport and it is thanks to all of you.