|Mary Beebe (from left), Bob Bartholomay, Katherine Levinson and Gretchen Perry are a few of the parishioners from St. Peter's Episcopal Church who donate food to families in HAC's Scattered Site shelter program.|
On the last Friday of February, several boxes of non-perishables were delivered to HAC’s Scattered Site shelter in Hyannis. There were cans of beans, carrots and peas, an assortment of cereals, pastas and sauces as well as some bed sheets, pillowcases and wash cloths, all courtesy of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Osterville.
It may not seem like much, but to the 17 families who are the recipients of this generosity, it will make a world of difference. “It is a big help. A huge help,” said HAC case manager Geoffrey Gagnon.
“It means a lot because they always run out of food stamps each month,” added case manager Antoinette Bills.
About once a month, the church delivers the donations, filling the cupboards of a small kitchen adjacent to the offices where Gagnon, Bills and Katie Geissler, the director of HAC’s Scattered Site program, work. Their office is on the first floor of one of the shelter buildings in Hyannis, that houses 11 families.
Parishioners have been collecting and delivering the donations, which consist primarily of food, since the end of 2015. Because of their dedication, the kitchen has been given its own nickname: St. Peter’s Pantry.
A Desire to Do More
Several years prior to the monthly offerings, the church had put together Thanksgiving baskets for families staying at the shelter. Mary Beebe of Cotuit said she and her fellow parishioners realized they wanted to do more.
“I like this because it gives everybody a chance in the church to participate, no matter what their age is,” Beebe said. “And people seem to embrace it with enthusiasm so that is very nice too.”
Among those who have embraced the effort is Bob Bartholomay of Centerville, who has dropped off recent donations to the shelter. “I like the idea that we’re helping people,” Bob said. “I think it’s tough to live on the Cape. Property values are high and you know there is a lot of affluence, but sometimes we don’t see there are people in need.”
Both Gagnon and Bills said the donations help fill the gap for those in need who are struggling to get by, serving to augment their food stamps and the additional food they receive from area food pantries.
As an example, Gagnon said, one client receives only $60 a month in food stamps for him and his 3-year-old son. “He loves beans with his hot dogs so we’ll stash beans aside for him to supplement his dinner,” he said. “This tides them over and gets them through some tough times.”
While church parishioners have not met the recipients of their kindness, they are taking satisfaction in knowing they are helping others. “Even though it is pretty small, I think people are really kind of proud of the pantry,” said Beebe.