Instead of toys or clothes for the holidays, some Woburnites have been collecting a totally different kind of gift: food for a holiday dinner.
The Council of Social Concern’s Food Pantry has begun to distribute holiday food baskets.
Need is “greater than ever,” according to council food pantry Director Karen Colatrella; the community is responding with “an amazing outpouring of generosity.”
The pantry distributed more than 400 meals at Thanksgiving, Colatrella told Woburn Patch.
“Thanksgiving,” she said, “is about food.”
She anticipates the pantry will give out as many turkeys with trimmings for the December holidays, even though “The mindset at Christmas is to donate toys.” The pantry does not include any toys in its food packages, she emphasized.
The food pantry does not run any food drives, Colatrella said. Schools, churches, civic organizations, businesses, neighborhoods and individuals donate food in many ways, she said. Some collect food; others put “baskets” of complete holiday meals—in boxes from the food pantry—together.
Students at the Linscott-Rumford School divvied up holiday foods by grade: potatoes, stuffing and turkey gravy mixes for kindergarteners and dessert mixes—cakes, brownies and pudding—for fourth graders.
Members of WREN, the Woburn Environmental Network, assembled 20 food boxes for the Food Pantry for Christmas, according to WREN member Rodney Flynn. WREN members donated more than $3,000 to the pantry for Thanksgiving and Christmas food, Flynn said.
The food pantry is still accepting non-perishable items and monetary donations, Colatrella said Friday, but no more complete holiday meal “baskets.”
As an experiment, the pantry is distributing the holiday food packages differently this year than in the past, according to Colatrella. Instead of scheduling one day for all food pantry clients to pick up food, the pickups are being spread out, she said, by appointment, until Dec. 21. The pantry changed its distribution schedule because of bad weather in Decembers past, she said.
This year, the pantry is filling the holiday meal packages with only non-perishable items, Colatrella said. Perishables wouldn’t last until all people pick up their holiday meal, she said. Gift certificates for food will help cover the cost of those fresh items.
After the holidays, donations to the food pantry slow down, according to Colatrella, but the need remains.
She asks the community to keep the pantry in mind in the new year, especially in the summer, when schools and other organizations go on hiatus and do not hold their regular and holiday food drives.
For an appointment for a Food Pantry holiday meal, call the Council of Social Concert at 781-935-6495.