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Church campaign hopes to boost Falmouth Food Pantry

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Church campaign hopes to boost Falmouth Food Pantry

FALMOUTH — On March 20, St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church will kick off its annual campaign to support the community with a book, bake and soup sale to benefit the Falmouth Food Pantry.

The sale, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the St. Mary the Virgin parish house on Foreside Road, will raise money for the food pantry and the volunteers will accept donations of non-perishable food items.

"We're very excited," said Becky Pride, a St. Mary parishioner and event organizer. "We have thousands of books. We've been sorting them for months."

The parish's goal is to collect 2,010 items, $2,010 and log 2,010 volunteer hours for the food pantry throughout the year, starting with Saturday's event.

The books, which will range in price from 50 cents for paperbacks to $5 for coffee-table books, were donated by parishioners. The baked goods and soups will all be made by parishioners, and Pride said there will be at least 30 volunteers helping to run the event.

Last year the parish raised $5,000 to purchase an ark of animals, seeds, trees and other needs for Heifer International, a nonprofit organization that provides support to needy children and families in third-world nations.

This year, Pride said, the parish wanted to chose a cause closer to home. "It's amazing what they're doing (at the food pantry)," she said.

The Falmouth Food Pantry began its work in July 2008, serving approximately 35 families in the area. Since then, it has grown to providing food to 130 families, which account for approximately 450 individuals.

"About half our food is supplied by Wayside Soup Kitchen and the government. The other half is donations from churches, schools, civic organizations, businesses and individuals," said Dorothy Blanchette, who volunteers at the Town Hall food pantry on Falmouth Road.

Blanchette explained that because the pantry receives government food, it is required to serve all families, regardless of where they live. However, she said 79 percent of the families the food pantry serves live in Falmouth.

The pantry recently forged a relationship with the Real School on Mackworth Island. Students at the school regularly bake casseroles, which the pantry delivers to families and elderly people in the area.

"To walk into a house and hand someone a hot dish, it's great. They're just thrilled. The kids are very good cooks, I hear," Blanchette said.

The pantry recently won a $500 grant to pay for the purchase of fresh eggs for its clients. Blanchette said eggs were the only items the pantry purchases. The rest of the items are donated, including two large donations of bakery items from Hannaford Bros. Co. each month.

"The clients just love their stuff," Blanchette said.

Members of the Falmouth Lions Club pack up and deliver the large pallets of food, and the Rotary Club recently donated a refrigerator to store perishable items.

Pride said it is this community-wide effort that caught the eye of St. Mary's parishioners when it came time to decide which organization to support this year.

"We understand that our whole church is a family and we're always looking for a way for the whole family to give back," she said.

All of the books that are not sold during Saturday's event will be donated to STRIVE University, which provides post-secondary education and training to adults with developmental disabilities.

Parishioner and food pantry volunteer Harold Otte, who introduced the idea of supporting the food pantry, said the book, bake and soup sale would be the first of several fundraising events throughout the year. He said plans are in the works for a cabaret night, as well as a multi-church community dinner in the fall.

The parish also sponsors a community meal called the "Souper Supper" every second and fourth Friday, which is a free meal for anyone who wants to attend. Pride said between 75 and 80 people regularly enjoy a hot meal and the pleasant company of other community members.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

This story was corrected on March 19 to reflect a 1 p.m. end time for this event.