Here's what the United Way of Tri-County needs for its food pantries in Framingham, Marlborough, and Clinton before Thanksgiving.
By Neal McNamara , Patch Staff
FRAMINGHAM, MA — As Thanksgiving approaches, you might be thinking about donating some of your time to a local charity. The United Way of Tri-County runs one of the largest holiday food giveaways between Framingham and Worcester, with an estimated 3,000 turkeys being given away this season alone.
The nonprofit coordinates the Pearl Street Cupboard in Framingham, the Marlborough Community Cupboard, and the WHEAT Community Cupboard in Clinton. We asked Pearl Street Cupboard Director Joseph Mina what the pantries need most as we approach the holidays.
What do you need right now in the days before Thanksgiving?
The top need, Mina said, is volunteers. He called them the "lifeblood" of the United Way's holiday efforts. They need people to help distribute all the food before Thanksgiving, which happens on Tuesday. To volunteer, you can call Mina at 508-370-4922 or visit the United Way website.
"There's always something for volunteers to do," Mina says.
If I can't volunteer, what else can I do?
You can always donate money or food. The headline charity drive is "Feed A Family For Fifty." For $50, the United Way can provide an entire holiday meal for a local family. The more increments of $50 you donate, the more families can be fed.
What about food donations? What do you need most?
Mina says that side dishes are always in need — items as simple as gravy. Gift cards are also a great donation because they allow families to go out and shop for themselves. The United Way also accepts furniture donations.
What about after Thanksgiving?
The three food pantries — and Framingham is the largest — will continue to need volunteers, food, and donations through Christmas and beyond. But Mina emphasized that volunteers of all ages are the top priority.
Volunteering is a fun experience that families can turn into an annual holiday tradition, Mina said.
"We've had kids as young as 3rd grade, and they were some of the best volunteers we've had. We have seniors, younger college kids, you name it," he said. "It's very much a family experience. You get to meet your neighbors and treat people with dignity and respect. That's what makes it so great."
And if you need a holiday meal or regular food, refer to the United Way's brochure of food pantries across the MetroWest area.
Photo Credit Charlie Pasewark