Helping Hands Stepping Up This Holiday Season

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy’s charities need your help this holiday season to provide assistance to the individuals and families they serve, as the rising costs of food, other household items and utilities are impacting many in the community.

Local non-profits report they are serving more clients this year than they have in the past and to help meet 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 all twelve months of the year.

Below is a list of some of the local organizations making a difference this year and how the public can lend them a hand.

Interfaith Social Services

Interfaith Social Services provided meals to 1,600 households this Thanksgiving and will distribute 4,000 gifts this holiday season, according to executive director Rick Doane.  Rising food costs and anticipated increases in utility rates have brought record numbers of new clients to Interfaith for their services.

Interfaith operates one of the largest emergency food programs in Greater Boston. Each year their food pantry assists more than 30,000 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 their 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. The organization has greater spending power at places such as the Food Bank. With a $5 donation, they can purchase the equivalent of 25 meals.

Many of Interfaith’s clients also request personal care items, such as pads and tampons, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, unscented soap and deodorant. There are no federal assistance programs to cover these purchases. The agency is always in need of feminine hygiene products, diapers (especially larger sizes), personal care items and incontinence products.

Donations can be dropped off at Interfaith’s building at 105 Adams St. in Quincy Center. Items can also be purchased through Amazon and shipped directly there.

Interfaith relies on volunteers year-round. Doane said the organization is 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. “This is our seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Countless Quincy residents have been served by our programs over the years 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.

DOVE

The annual holiday assistance program at DOVE (Domestic Violence Ended) is underway. Please join them in supporting families impacted by domestic violence and poverty.

Keeping the pandemic and the safety of its donors, staff, and clients in mind, DOVE is asking donors to consider purchasing gift cards for their DOVE families. This will allow DOVE to receive and pass on your package directly through the mail. The families will then be able to use those cards to provide themselves and their children holiday gifts. I think we can all agree, 2022 needs a little more cheer!

To participate, email dove.elfteam@gmail.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. 5. To ensure that each of DOVE’s more than 150 families receive their gifts before the holidays, gift cards should be mailed by Dec. 10.

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 development@dovema.org.

Quincy Community Action Programs

Quincy Community Action Programs is seeing food insecurity among local families remain high for the third holiday season since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As many residents begin to recover from the pandemic’s financial impact, low-income households and communities of color are having the most difficult time bouncing back. As the community need for food has grown, so has QCAP’s need for increased food storage capacity.

In response to this need QCAP purchased a former commercial building in the same neighborhood they have served since 1965. The new South West Community Center is home to a new larger food pantry, in addition to other QCAP services such as financial coaching, and housing, energy and childcare assistance.

More than a food pantry, the South West Community Center is a welcoming place to gather for cooking and nutrition classes, menu-planning workshops, family engagement activities, and more. To support families during the holiday season, the Center will distribute holiday gifts and meals.

“The new South West Community Center, located at 18 Copeland Street, is here to help, by providing holiday assistance through the distribution of monthly food orders, holiday meals and gifts for children during the holiday season,” said Kristen Schlapp, QCAP’s chief operating officer.

QCAP provided over 600 full Thanksgiving dinners this year and expects to distribute an additional 600 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 eighteen 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 at least 800 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 Program.

The South West Community Center is accepting gift donations through an Amazon registry that can be found at qcap.org/food.

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.

“While the pandemic is easing for some, recovery has been slow for many in the low-income community. Families continue to make hard 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 that keeps their families going.”

The pantry at the Center is accessible to clients and donors five days a week from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except on Wednesdays when it is open 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/energy.

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/housing.

“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,” reflected Schlapp.

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 experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.

The organization’s top need is monetary donations to assist the growing number of people struggling amid the rise in costs for housing, energy, gas, food, and other essential items.

To assist families in need, FBMS is requesting gift cards in lieu of presents. Gift cards provide families with the most flexibility, plus they help FBMS preserve space. 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 our Quincy shelter.

FBMS is in need of prepared meals for guests of Father Bill’s Place in Quincy. For more info, contact Mary Ann Mendes at 508-427-6448 ext. 2283 or email volunteer@helpfbms.org.

Father Bill’s & MainSpring serves more than 5,000 households annually, including more than 900 individuals at Father Bill’s Place in Quincy. 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 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, said Boynton.

The Salvation Army’s biggest fundraiser of the year is the Red Kettle Campaign. Boynton said the goal is to raise $130,000 during the campaign, which runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 24. 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.

“Each year, our community has risen to the challenge and met the needs of its neighbors,” Boynton said. “We look to our community again with anticipation and know that with your help, together we can rise to meet any need.”

For more information, visit the Salvation Army of Quincy’s website.

YMCA

The South Shore YMCA’s Holiday Assistance Program provides toys, meals and clothing to hundreds of families each year. The program gives much more than just material possessions for a holiday celebration – it brings a sense of belonging that creates an inner-springboard of self-confidence and a desire to give back.

If you are looking to help, the Y has three options to do so.

Residents can make the holidays brighter for neighbors by adopting a local family and donating the items on their holiday list. To adopt a family this holiday season, contact Josh Esquivel by email at jesquivel@ssymca.org.

Residents can also purchase an item or two from the YMCA’s general wish list. To do so, visit ssymca.org/holidayhelp for a list of needed items or grab an ornament from the Giving Tree in either the Quincy or Emilson (Hanover) YMCAs and drop off unwrapped presents by December 16. Donations may be dropped off at the Germantown Neighborhood Center, 366 Palmer St. in Quincy; the Quincy YMCA at 79 Coddington St.; and the Emilson YMCA, 75 Mill St., Hanover.

Residents may also make monetary donations directly to the YMCA online at ssymca.org/give.

For more information, please contact the YMCA at holiday@ssymca.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; paper towels and bleach; Dawn Original Blue dish detergent; Purina Pro Plan canned dog food; and Fancy Feast or Friskies canned cat food.

For more information, you can visit quincyanimalshelter.org or call 617-376-1349.

Norfolk County Registry of Deeds

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is holding its annual food drive between now and Dec. 13.

“There is no doubt Norfolk County is a desirable place to live and to work,” said Register of Deeds William O’Donnell. “However, there are people throughout the county that are truly hurting. This year we, as a community, have seen an unprecedented rise in inflation rates, especially in the cost of food. Some Norfolk County families are hit harder by these increased costs and worry about putting food on the table this holiday season.”

To participate in the food drive, you can bring non-perishable food items to the Registry of Deeds office, located at 649 High St. in Dedham. A donation bin is available in the lobby and food can be dropped off on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Suggested donations include canned goods, breakfast cereals, pasta and sauces as well as paper goods and toiletries.

If you cannot get to the Dedham location, the Registry website, norfolkdeeds.org, includes a list of other local food pantries.

“Working together, we can truly make a huge difference this holiday season,” O’Donnell said.

The Registry of Deeds is also sponsoring a Toys for Tots donation drive for the 15th straight year. A bin for donating new, unwrapped toys is available in the registry’s lobby during business hours through noon on Dec. 7.

Toys For Tots

The US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is celebrating its 75th year this holiday season. Marines and volunteers will be conducting over 830 local toy collection and distribution centers nationwide.

Donations of new, unwrapped toys can be brought to one of the many participating locations, the list of which can be found online at toysfortots.org. 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.

Participating locations in Quincy include ATCK Fitness at 100 Walter Hannon Parkway; Breezeline at 3 Batterymarch Park; Marina Bay Association at 534 Victory Rd.; Quincy Credit Union at 100 Quincy Ave.; Quincy Yacht Club at 1310 Hancock St.; and the Staybridge Suites Hotel at 1 Richard Stratton Way. (The times for those locations, as well as information on locations in other communities, is available on the Toys for Tots website.)

In 2021, 79,015 toys were distributed to 66,939 children in the Boston area.

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