Every year around the holidays, people from all walks of life slow down and take time to think about those in need. People are at their most generous and many seek out charitable organizations to donate items, money and/or time.
The food banks in Tiverton and Little Compton are two such charitable organizations. Both strive to help members of their respective communities. Both have benefited by a tremendous outpouring of generosity from their neighbors.
And both hope the help continues.
Susan Sisson has been in charge of the since she was appointed director of social services in 1996. In this role, she is responsible for maintaining and stocking the food pantry, keeping a running list of volunteers and organizing distribution efforts.
"The donation level has been phenomenal," she exclaimed. "Several groups went above and beyond this year."
Sisson said the economy has played the primary role in this flood of generosity from the community.
"People are aware that some households used to have two parents working, and now there are no parents working," she added.
Recently, the local Boy Scout troop brought 20 bags of groceries to the Little Compton food bank and some of the students from the donated groceries they collected from a dress down day fundraiser. Local farms donate fresh produce, when in season, and in Tiverton regularly donates bread.
In Tiverton, Kathy Yorston, an (EBCAP) family advocate, is preparing her own food bank. She runs the holiday program, which provides food and other items to families.
Donations are up from last year in Tiverton, too.
"The community is very generous," said Yorston. "The donations really come from everywhere."
This year, 150 families will utilize the food bank's assistance. On Monday, Yorston and her team were at the distributing packages to families in need. Each family received a bag of wrapped presents, a bag of food, a bread item, a bag of potatoes, a first aid kit, a George Forman Grill, a $10 card to buy meat for their grill and a stocking stuffer. People could also choose a few extra items, such as hats, gloves and small toys.
"The donated 40 grills and the donated $3,000 to buy food," added Yorston.
Both food banks are always in need of donations, especially peanut butter, tuna, spaghetti sauce, fresh veggies, canned fruit, soups and jelly.