By Amaris Castillo
DRACUT — A tremendous wave of support has poured in for the Dracut Food Pantry in the weeks after a photo of an almost bare shelf was publicized in The Sun of Lowell and on social media.
Volunteers said the pantry, located at 1934 Lakeview Ave., had reached all-time lows and that they were seeking pasta, cereal and other nonperishable items.
Individual donors and businesses have responded in droves.
“It was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Kevin Willett, chairman of the Dracut Food Pantry’s board of directors. “The generosity was overwhelming. It was so great. It simply turned into the largest food drive we’ve ever had.”
Dave Paquin, who also sits on the board of directors, said volunteers have been deluged with food to the point where they don’t have the space at this time to sort through everything.
“We’ve established an offsite location — a temporary location — to get us through the holidays and, once our inventory gets reduced a bit, we’ll bring in that food that’s been in storage,” Paquin said. “The outpouring has been more than we could have ever expected.”
According to Paquin, donations have included $1,200 worth of nonperishable food items and other items from Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, a donation of more than 70 turkeys with all the fixings from the Manolis Family Foundation, $400 in cash donations from A-Brews Tap & Grill, and a $5,000 unanimous donation from a woman in memory of her late husband.
Every school in the School Department also collected food for the pantry, Paquin added. He said that in one day, the pantry received several pickup-truck loads of food from various schools in town.
In a written statement, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union President and CEO Mark S. Cochran said the credit union is committed to supporting local organizations that help those who are in need of assistance.
“We are happy to provide the Dracut Food Pantry with this donation of supplies so it can fulfill its mission this holiday season,” Cochran said.
Paquin said the pantry helped about 80 clients or families one recent Saturday, and that before Thanksgiving Day, it gave out the turkey dinners donated by the Manolis Family Foundation. In addition, Paquin said the pantry has been receiving requests through its hotline, and that volunteers respond immediately to make arrangements to help service those in need in town.
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.