|By G. Michael Dobbs
Michael Walsh, chair of the Grey House Board, (left) is seen speaking with Bruce Hotchberg, the widower of Daydie Hitchberg who started the Thanksgiving contribution Rachel’s Table made.
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – It’s an annual tradition at this time of year – the front room of the Grey House is filled with 50-pound sacks of potatoes and the staff is bringing in more food items. Thanksgiving dinner for at least 100 families is made possible through the contribution made by another charity.
On Nov. 26, three vehicles loaded with frozen turkeys, canned vegetables and bags of rice pulled into the driveway of Grey House and were quickly unloaded by members of Rachel’s Table.
Leyla Kayi, director of Donor Relations at Grey House, said the food provided by Rachel’s Table (www.rachelstablespringfield.org) has become a tradition. She explained the effort was started by the late Daydie Hotchberg who asked, that after her passing, the tradition continue.
Rachel’s Table’s volunteers collect food from supermarkets, restaurants, and bakeries and distributes to 46 agencies in the area.
Deirdre Griffin, the program coordinator for the Grey House’s food pantry and Thrift Store said 400 households are served by the house’s food program, with at least half of them comprised of four or more people.
Kayi said of the food distribution for Thanksgiving, “The phones have been ringing off the hook.”
The Grey House, established in 1982 when five members of the Sisters of Saint Joseph bought the Victorian home, offers a community education program, including English literacy, as well as after-school and summer program for children an emergency food pantry and a thrift store.
The house is always hopping, “Kayi said.
Grey House will also continue providing Christmas presents to the families it serves as well to the children at two schools.
Griffin said that since the federal SNAP program has been cut, Grey House has seen an increase in the number of people seeking emergency food assistance. She explained the average of 80 people a week has raised to 155.
She added that many of the household the organization helps include people who work, but who are facing cutbacks in their hours.
To learn more about Grey House and its programs, log onto www.grayhouse.org.
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