"Give Five" is a Patch.com initiative for its editors to get even more involved in the community by volunteering at local nonprofits and charities. We hope to, at the least, visit five organizations throughout the year. This week, we started by volunteering at the Northborough Food Pantry, and learned more about this crucial resource while helping to re-stock the rice and soup.
Northborough, by many standards, is considered a pretty "well-to-do" town. And though the streets are lined with beautiful homes and cars that complement a thriving business and restaurant scene in town, there are some who are struggling on the sidelines.
Life's circumstances, such as retirement or the loss of a job, can thrust families into a position of need that perhaps they hadn't forseen. You may not even know it, but there are people in need in Northborough, and many of them benefit from the Northborough Food Pantry.
"It's a really expensive town to live in," said Sarah Rothery, co-director of the pantry, "so if you are unemployed or retired the only thing you can control is food, fuel and medicine. There is a great need, and since the recession, we have had new clients every week."
And as she does every week, Rothery and her son, Ben, stocked and organized shelves at the Northborough Food Pantry, located in the basement of the Town Hall at 63 Main St. The crowd of shoppers had recently left, and Rothery was making sure to fill in the gaps on the shelves.
Ben, too, helped out, as he has been doing since he was young. Now, his work is applied to his hours of community service as part of the honor society at Algonquin Regional High School. Rothery said there are roughly 10 volunteers who help out intermittently, and that number doubles or triples during food drives.
Rothery, who is co-director along with Susan Seppa, has been a volunteer at the pantry for 12 years, a board member for three years, and co-director for a little more than a year.
"I got into it because my youngest went into nursery school," Rothery said, "and I wasn't working. I was looking for volunteer activity. The director at the time was Pat Link, who was a big inspiration to me."
Roughly 50-70 families shop at the pantry on a weekly basis, according to Rothery. Users must be either a resident or a member of a Northborough church in order to use the pantry, which is open on Wednesdays from 9-10:30 a.m. and Thursdays from 6:30-8 p.m. Food limit guidelines are set by the Worcester County Food Bank, the umbrella organization that supplies a good portion of the food to surrounding food pantries, including Northborough.
Locals, however, are more than welcome to donate directory to the Northborough pantry, and do. Both nonperishable items, and monetary donations, are appreciated.
"People in Northborough can be extremely generous," Rothery said, "and when people donate money, we use it to buy fresh foods such as eggs, meat and dairy."
The Northborough Food Pantry also partners with Trinity Church the first week of every month to provide a medical program to residents, which involves volunteer pharmacists or nurses who give out vitamins and over-the-counter medications to those in need.
Rothery said that though donations come in throughout the year, two of the biggest drives that fill the shelves include the summer food drive organized by the Boy Scouts as well as the Stamp Out Hunger drive organized by the US Postal Service. Corridor Nine, the local chamber of commerce, also participates in an annual food drive.
For more information on the food pantry, call 508-393-6897 or visit their Web site.