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WESTERLY — The Jonnycake Center of Westerly announced Wednesday that its distribution of 390 Thanksgiving meals this year was one of the largest in the organization’s 44-year history.

Throughout the fall, income-eligible clients from Westerly, Charlestown, Richmond, Hopkinton, and other southern Rhode Island communities were invited to register with the Jonnycake’s social services team to receive the dinners from the center’s food pantry. The staff coordinated donation drives, accepted food items from residents, and bought food from the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and other community partners to secure enough food to meet demand.

Staff members and volunteers spent over 110 hours sorting food and preparing Thanksgiving meal kits to be distributed to registered households on Saturday.

On distribution day, the clients came to the Jonnycake Center to receive their Thanksgiving supplies. They also had the option to receive no-cost flu shots from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, or browse a free Farmer’s Market while waiting for their meal baskets.

 “We are grateful to all our neighbors who helped make this year’s Thanksgiving distribution drive a success,” said Lee Eastbourne, Jonnycake Center executive director.

“Despite a rising need for assistance, our partners more than met the challenge in ensuring that no client would have to go hungry on Thanksgiving this year. Thanks to the generosity of donors and supporters, we were able to provide enough turkeys, fresh produce, nonperishables, and other staples of Thanksgiving dinner to feed local residents in need. It is truly heartwarming that the community continues to come together to support the most vulnerable among us,” Eastbourne said.

Matt Levy, marketing manager, said the center estimated that about 1,100 people were served this year. Records dating to 2013 show that 425 households were served that year (approximately 1,200 people), and that the number has been steadily rising in recent years.

The Jonnycake Center now is inviting residents to participate in its Adopt-a-Family program, which arranges toys and holiday presents for children in need. To sign up as an adoptee family in need of holiday toys, visit the center’s Social Services team at 23 Industrial Drive in Westerly or call 401-377-8069 x101.

To register as an adopting family who can procure necessities and toys, contact Eastbourne at leastbourne@jonnycake.org. Volunteers are sought to assist in all aspects of the Adopt-a-Family program.

More information about the Jonnycake Center of Westerly’s social services, food pantry, educational outreach, holiday programming, and Thrift Store can be found at jonnycake.org or call 401-377-8069.

Sun staff

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