By SCOTT JACKSON
The holiday season is now upon us, and local charities are looking for your assistance to help out the families and residents they serve.
Quincy’s charities report they are serving more clients this year than they have in years past as the rising costs of housing, utilities, food and other household expenses are impacting many in the community. To help keep pace with the rising demand, those charities need additional assistance from those who can give.
Residents who can help can do so in myriad ways, such as giving food, toys, household supplies, money and gift cards. Charities are also in need of volunteers – not just during the holiday season, but year-round.
Below is a list of some of the local organizations making a difference this year and how the public can land them a hand.
Interfaith Social Services
Interfaith Social Services provided meals to 1,600 households this Thanksgiving and will distribute 4,000 gifts to children this holiday season, according to Executive Director Rick Doane. Inflation, federal benefit cuts and the high cost of housing in our region have brought a record-setting number of new clients to Interfaith in search of assistance.
Interfaith operates one of the largest emergency food programs in Greater Boston. Each year its food pantry distributes more than 90,000 bags of groceries and hygiene supplies to clients in Quincy and across the South Shore. In addition, Interfaith operates a mental health counseling center, homelessness prevention program and the Bureau Drawer Thrift Shop.
The organization’s food pantry serves thousands of local residents each month, said Doane, and Interfaith is always in need of monetary donations to support its emergency food program. Interfaith places a priority on providing clients with healthy, fresh foods and funds are always needed to supplement rescued food and donated nonperishables with fresh produce, meats, eggs and dairy.
Interfaith believes that hygiene is a right and not a luxury. The organization asks that donors collect personal care items, such as shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and deodorant. Interfaith is also always in need of feminine hygiene products, diapers (especially larger sizes), personal care items and incontinence products. There are no federal assistance programs to cover any of these necessities.
Donations can be dropped off at Interfaith’s building at 105 Adams St. in Quincy Center from 12-3 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. Items can also be purchased through Amazon and shipped directly to Interfaith’s offices.
Interfaith relies on volunteers year-round. Doane said the organization is always looking for residents who can make a commitment to volunteer for three hours each week for at least several months.
“Interfaith Social Services was founded in 1947,” said Doane. “For more than 75 years, countless Quincy residents have been served by our programs and it is all possible because of the culture of neighbors helping neighbors that exists in our community. We are incredibly grateful to the city of Quincy and its residents that make our work possible.”
For more information, visit interfaithsocialservices.org or call 617-773-6203.
The Salvation Army
For more than 125 years, The Salvation Army of Quincy has provided Christmas assistance to families, providing them with toys, gifts, clothing, and food, said Capt. Adam Boynton. With more people in need, they are asking for your help.
There are several ways you can make change happen, Boynton said.
The Salvation Army’s biggest fundraiser of the year is the Red Kettle Campaign. Boynton said the goal is to raise $100,000 during the campaign, which runs from Nov. 18 to Dec. 23. Money collected from the Red Kettle Campaign supports The Salvation Army year-round.
“With the economic struggles of this past year, and the looming utility price increases, we’ll need even more funds to help meet the need,” Boynton said.
“Please consider donating as you pass a Red Kettle located a Walmart, Star Market, Shaw’s, Hobby Lobby, South Shore Plaza, and Stop & Shop. Think about it, if even half of the residents of Quincy gave $5, we would exceed our goal!”
The Salvation Army also needs individuals, families, businesses, or service groups who can sponsor children to purchase clothing and toy items for its clients. Children’s names, ages, gender, clothing sizes, and toy wishes are placed on an angel tag, which is given to the sponsor. You would shop for the child and then return the gifts to The Salvation Army, located on Baxter Street.
To sponsor a child and obtain angel tags, you can contact the Salvation Army office at 617-472-2345.
“We are blessed by the generosity of this community,” Boynton said. “We look to you again with anticipation and know that with your help, we can rise to meet the needs of our neighbors.”
Father Bill’s & MainSpring
Residents looking to help out Father Bill’s & MainSpring (FBMS) this year can visit helpfbms.org/holidays to find out the various ways to assist your neighbors who are facing a housing crisis.
FBMS’ top need is monetary donations to help the organization assist the growing number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness in our region. Particularly during the winter, FBMS relies on private monetary donations to increase its shelter capacity to try to ensure that no one has to sleep outside or in their car.
As the kitchen in FBMS’ brand-new Yawkey Housing Resource Center gets up and running, the agency is in need of prepared meals and bagged lunches to help during this transition period. If you can help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 857-275-7454.
To assist families in need, FBMS is requesting gift cards in lieu of presents. Gift cards provide families with the most flexibility. Gift cards can be provided in any denomination from any large stores, such as CVS, Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, Target and Walmart.
To donate high-need items to FBMS, visit tinyurl.com/amazonfbms for a full list of items and to ship them directly to FBMS. This winter, shelter guests are in need of winter boots, hand and feet warmers, gloves, thermals, hooded sweatshirts and sweatpants (men’s & women’s brands, all sizes), and underwear.
Donations can be dropped off or mailed to: Father Bill’s & MainSpring, 430 Belmont St., Brockton, MA 02301. Donations are processed in Brockton, then distributed to the Yawkey Housing Resource Center (HRC) in Quincy.
Father Bill’s & MainSpring serves more than 5,000 households annually, including more than 900 individuals at its Quincy shelter. The agency also operates more than 700 permanent supportive housing units across Southern Massachusetts, including more than 300 units in the Quincy area alone.
The annual holiday assistance program at DOVE (Domestic Violence Ended) is underway. Please join the organization in supporting families impacted by domestic violence and poverty.
To participate, email email@example.com.
DOVE will provide a list of options where donors can choose to support a specific family, donate general goods to the shelter or help support its much needed general gift-card drive to support families through the holidays and beyond.
Donors who choose to adopt a specific family will receive their family’s holiday gift card wish list no later than Dec. 1. To ensure that each of DOVE’s more than 150 families receive their gifts before the holidays, donors should schedule a drop off time no later than Dec. 13.
DOVE will provide you with the address of its drop-off location in Quincy.
If you wish to make a financial contribution to support DOVE’s work, or the holiday assistance program, see DOVE’s website, dovema.org, or email Jessica.Cohen@dovema.org.
Quincy Community Action Programs
Local individuals and families are facing some of the most critical financial challenges that Quincy Community Action Programs, Inc. (QCAP) has witnessed since the organization’s founding in 1965.
Local food insecurity remains alarmingly high, and is compounded by the need for housing and heating assistance as rents continue to skyrocket. Many elderly, adults and children are facing the threat of hunger and homelessness, with little relief in sight.
The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Quincy is $2,772 per month, equating to over $33,000 per year. A single parent making minimum wage grosses less than this at $31,200 per year. In order to spend 30 percent of income on housing, the household income would need to be over $99,000 annually. This is simply out of reach for many households.
QCAP is seeing this reflected in those reaching out for help. QCAP’s Housing Program is experiencing a 40 percent increase in clients reaching out for housing search assistance. Last winter, QCAP had a record number of people apply for food and fuel assistance, and the staff expects to see the same this year. In addition, the income level of those reaching out for help at the food pantry is lower than ever previously seen, indicating the depths of the economic impacts on those in need.
“We are seeing not only people with very low incomes coming in for help, but also those whose income puts them just over the emergency assistance eligibility criteria for housing. For those people there are extremely limited resources,” said CEO Beth Ann Strollo.
In response to the growing need, QCAP opened the expanded South West Community Center (SWCC) in November of 2022. The SWCC is home to a larger food pantry, in addition to other QCAP services such as financial coaching, family engagement activities, and critical housing, energy and child care assistance. To support families during the holiday season, the SWCC distributes holiday gifts and meals in addition to the regular monthly food orders.
QCAP provided over 650 full Thanksgiving dinners this year and expects to distribute an additional 650 holiday food orders, including hams, during December.
Suggested holiday donations include frozen turkeys and other holiday meal essentials, including cranberry jelly, turkey gravy, canned pie ingredients, and cooking oil and spices. Food donations to QCAP’s food center help to fill gaps caused by an increased need over the last 18 months, and they help supply the pantry with items that are more difficult to find.
In addition to holiday meals, QCAP will also be providing gifts to nearly 1,000 children with gifts this holiday season. These children include those enrolled at the South West Community Center’s Food & Nutrition Program and children who attend QCAP’s Head Start early learning center.
The South West Community Center is accepting donations of food as well as gifts for children 12 and under through Dec. 20. More information on the Holiday Food & Gift Drive can be found at qcap.org.
In addition, there is an ongoing need at the Center for donations of non-food items such as cleaning supplies, toilet paper, feminine products, soap, and toothpaste and toothbrushes.
“With the cost of food and housing on the rise, families are faced with difficult decisions about whether to pay their rent, their heating costs, or put food on their tables. A donation to QCAP helps us ensure that households get healthy, nutritious food and other critical wrap-around services,” said COO Kristen Schlapp.
The pantry at the Center is accessible to clients and donors five days a week. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays. Wednesdays it is open later – from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. – to accommodate working families. For more information on the services the food center provides or donations needed, please call 617-471-0796.
QCAP also provides heating assistance to residents in Quincy, Braintree, Milton, and Weymouth. Heating assistance can help significantly reduce monthly bills, even if heat is included in the rent. For more information on this, please call 617-657-5301 or visit qcap.org.
Rental assistance is also available through QCAP’s housing program. QCAP has helped families avoid eviction through rental assistance funding and advocacy. For more information on eligibility, please call 617-657-5376 or visit qcap.org.
“We would not be able to do the work we do during these challenging times without the support of a caring community, we are grateful for the ongoing support of our community, volunteers, and donors,” Strollo said.
For more information on how to support the Holiday Food & Gift Drive, please contact QCAP’s Director of Development & Marketing, Anna DeBiasi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quincy Animal Shelter
Those looking to help out our four-legged friends can do so this holiday season by supporting the Quincy Animal Shelter.
Sandra Sines, president of the Quincy Animal Shelter’s board of directors, said there are several items the shelter is most in need of this year. They include gift cards to any grocery store or pet store; unscented bleach; Dawn Original Blue dish detergent; Stewart dried liver treats for dogs; and Fancy Feast or Friskies canned food for cats.
For more information, you can visit quincyanimalshelter.org or call 617-376-1349.
Norfolk County Registry of Deeds
The cost of living has become increasingly challenging for many individuals and families across Norfolk County, making it difficult to afford basic necessities such as food, which can be especially difficult during the holiday season when the pressure to provide for loved ones is heightened. Between now and Dec. 14, the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is hosting a food drive to help out those in need.
“There is no doubt that Norfolk County is a desirable place to live and to work. However, there are people throughout the county who are truly hurting,” said Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell. “This year, we, as a community, have seen a rising demand for food assistance, and it is crucial that we come together to support those in need. By participating in the annual Registry of Deeds food drive, we can make a significant impact this holiday season.”
According to the latest Project Bread statistics, 18.8 percent of households in Massachusetts are considered food insecure. Furthermore, 21.9 percent of children in the state are also considered food insecure. The increasing cost of housing and food are likely factors that contribute to the rising rates of food insecurity.
“As the holidays approach, there is definitely a need for more food assistance. Household expenses are higher due to the cost of home heating fuel, food bills, and increased interest rates. Some Norfolk County families are hit harder by these increased costs and worry about putting food on the table this holiday season. So, let us be mindful during this Thanksgiving season that others may need our help,” O’Donnell said.
Non-perishable food items can be brought directly to the Registry of Deeds, which is located at 649 High St. in Dedham. A donation bin is available in the building’s lobby and food can be dropped off Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Suggested donations include canned goods, breakfast cereals, pasta, sauces, toiletries, and paper products.
If you can’t get to the Registry of Deeds building to drop off food, you can check the Registry website at norfolkdeeds.org for a pantry location in your community.
The Registry of Deeds is also hosting a Toys for Tots drive for the 16th straight year. Donations of new, unwrapped toys for children ages 10 and under can be brought to a donation bin in the Registry’s during business hours between now and 10 a.m. on Dec. 8.
Toys For Tots
The US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is celebrating its 76th year this holiday season. Marines and volunteers will be collecting donations at locations across the country through Dec. 11.
Donations of new, unwrapped toys can be brought to one of the many participating locations, the complete list of which can be found online at toysfortots.org. Participating locations in Quincy include: Ashlar Park at 100 Whitwell St.; ATCK Fitness at 100 Walter Hannon Pkwy.; Meineke Car Care at 662 Southern Arty.; Northeast Addiction Treatment Center at 36 Miller Stile Rd.; and Quincy Credit Union at 100 Quincy Ave.
While the organization does not publish a list of acceptable toys, realistic-looking weapons and items with food should not be donated and will not be distributed.