Editor’s Note: This version updates the number of meals provided by the PNC for the Thanksgiving.
STONINGTON — With a communitywide effort this year that included support from dozens of volunteers and numerous donors, those in need will not go without a holiday meal this Thanksgiving.
The staff of the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center, assisted by volunteers, packaged and prepared for delivery more than 500 Thanksgiving dinners over the past week, including accommodation of several last minute requests. Officials at the center said they were able to help everyone who made a request.
“We’ve been very fortunate this year, the community has really stepped up,” said Susan Sedensky, executive director.
The meals include a turkey and all the fixings for a family holiday dinner. Deliveries were made to 100 homebound seniors and other residents on Sunday. Any baskets that are remaining are expected to be picked up over the next couple days from the center.
For the Westerly-Pawcatuck community, the number of people in need has grown in recent years, but ongoing support from community partners and numerous donations from area residents have helped.
Last week, Westerly police delivered two police SUVs full of donations to the Jonnycake Center. The police collected the donations from outside the Westerly Walmart and Stop & Shop stores earlier this month.
Lee Eastbourne, executive director of the Jonnycake Center of Westerly, said last week that these donations are crucial for nonprofit organizations trying to help those in need. In Westerly, he said, more than 300 families had requested services for the Thanksgiving holiday, and all of them were accommodated.
“It goes to show that success comes from collaboration,” Eastbourne said. “We couldn’t meet the need without the assistance that our community partners provide.”
Although the organizations were happy to meet all the Thanksgiving requests, both Eastbourne and Sedensky said there is still plenty to be done before Christmas. Both agencies said they typically experience a 20 to 25 percent increase in requests from the Thanksgiving holiday to Christmas and don’t expect that to be any different in 2017.
With upcoming events including police-sponsored food and toy collection drives in Westerly on Dec. 2 and Stonington on Dec. 10, both towns are hoping additional donations will continue, both for food and holiday gifts.
“This was just the first of a three-part effort for the holiday season,” Eastbourne said. “Once we get through the holiday, we will very quickly be reassessing needs and the attention will turn toward meeting all needs for Christmas. We are thankful to the community for their continued support and we have a busy month ahead.”