By JOHN HOWELL Even during a pandemic when gatherings are limited and distancing and the wearing of masks is required, scores of people came together May 28 to help the less fortunate. Actually, it was a team of teams that provided food and backpacks
Even during a pandemic when gatherings are limited and distancing and the wearing of masks is required, scores of people came together May 28 to help the less fortunate.
Actually, it was a team of teams that provided food and backpacks filled with books and school supplies for 400 families.
Legacy Church – which up until the governor’s stay-at-home order of March 15 was meeting at East Greenwich High School – teamed up with Feed the Children and Price Rite Marketplace to plan and coordinate the distribution of an estimated $100,000 in food, personal hygiene goods and home goods from the Sentinel Limousine warehouse on Helene Road in view of the hangars on Airport Road.
Families received a 25-pound box of food; 15-pound box of essentials, including shampoo, conditioner, lotion and personal-care items; a bag of additional fresh produce and shelf-stable items; and two backpacks filled with school supplies for the upcoming school year.
Sentinel, operated by Legacy Church member Dan McCrystal, turned out to be an ideal location for a distribution of such magnitude while keeping proper distances and without causing delays.
“The church has not stopped being a church,” Pastor Ron Termale said of the cessation of Sunday services. Termale said he was contacted by Feed the Children that was looking to hold a distribution event in the area. A nonprofit founded in 1979, Feed the Children conducts 300 to 400 food distributions across the country giving away $8 million in product annually Joseph Allegro, senior director of corporate sponsorships said.
Allego, who spoke at the kickoff to Thursday’s event, said Feed the Children seeks not to just end hunger but is there to help those who need support. He pointed out that “feed” serves as the acronym for food, essentials, education and disaster relief.
Termale said parishioners willingly took on the task of identifying those who could use the help and planning the event. Among key organizers were Myvette Sousa, Samantha Batista and Joseph Papino who put out the word on social media and developed a voucher email to those requesting assistance along with scheduling pickup times.
That was just part of what was needed.
A Feed the Children tractor-trailer filled with boxes of nonperishable food along with toiletries and household goods arrived at Sentinel Limousine along with deliveries of food from Price Rite. Working into Wednesday night from the Sentinel warehouse parishioners divvied up all to be donated into boxes and bags that would be loaded into cars from two distribution tines as people arrived with their vouchers.
Before vehicles started arriving for pickups, parishioners and Price Rite volunteers gathered to hear from community representatives and leaders.
Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey said that while the government has stepped in during the pandemic to help, he applauded the church, Price Rite and Feed the Children for recognizing, “people are still in need and you haven’t forgotten them.”
Warwick Superintendent of Schools Philip Thornton spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on society and how in times of crisis “how we trust each other defines us as a people.” He called what was being done as “truly inspirational.”
James Dorey, president of Price Rite, said company stores have been exceptionally busy with the pandemic and that associates have put in long hours to serve the public, yet a number stepped forward to volunteer their time. He said donations from customers and Conagra Foods not only went into this drive but also help throughout the year in efforts to help the needy.
“We have people who care that’s what makes the job,” he said.
Appropriately, Termale delivered a prayer before the first of those bearing vouchers showed up. Then the teams sprang into action, directing vehicles as they lined to have bags and boxes packed into the back seats and trunks of their cars.
Legacy Church parishioners are no strangers to helping community. They have staged “rock the city” music events in Oakland Beach and Buttonwoods where they host live music, a barbecue and bring together non-profit organizations to assist people with services.
Termale couldn’t say what might be the next community event.
And while the church community came together Thursday and has daily on-line messages his focus is on reopening June 28. He said the church would be following guidelines and there will be multiple services to keep within the guidelines.
He’s ready and he believes his parishioners are, too.