Pelham Cares Coordinator Lori Grande (now retired) ensures that all the Chefs Boyardee are properly stacked, November 2019, at the charity's office in Fonthill. VOICE PHOTO

Charity asks that donations be placed out on porches by 9 AM on Dec 7

Special to the VOICE

It’s the most wonderful—and busiest— time of the year for Pelham Cares. For the 29th straight holiday season, the Fonthill-based charitable organization that focuses on people in need in Pelham will launch its community food drive on Saturday, December 7.

“It’s the big one,” says Pelham Cares Coordinator Lori Grande. “It’s the only food drive we do ourselves.”

For those who want to donate non-perishable food items and hygiene products, the process is simple. Just bag up the items you want to contribute and leave them on your front porch before 9 AM. on December 7. Pelham Cares volunteers—including Fonthill and Fenwick Lions Clubs’ members and Kinsmen—will then pick them up.

Grande says it’s after the pickup that the operation really shifts into high gear. Those service club members then take the donations to Rice Road Greenhouses, which offers up their space every year, where about 80 more volunteers will sort, date and box the items into individual care packages. With that, Pelham Cares has its largest donation collection on the calendar.

“Some of the items will last until summer and fall,” Grande said. “I would estimate 75 percent of our annual donations are received through the holiday food drive.”

Those food and hygiene packages are distributed to approximately 50 Pelham families every month, according to Grande. Pelham should consider itself fortunate, in that she says there hasn’t been a large uptick in demand for these charitable services in the last few years—unlike many other, larger communities.

“It’s pretty consistent,” Grande said. “No big change up or down.”

Pelham Cares stresses that it asks for non-perishable food items only. If you are unable to donate food or hygiene items, consider a monetary donation, which may be dropped off at their Highway 20 office,near the intersection of Rice Road, during business hours.

In addition to the food bank, the charity also provides transportation to medical appointments for Pelham residents in need, and a sports and recreation subsidy for youngsters from low-income families. The holiday food drive, however, remains the catalyst.

“We’re amazed every year how the community comes together,” said Grande. “It sustains us for the year to come.”