This time of year, many people are overwhelmed just thinking about how to serve or buy for their own families but some in town are focusing their efforts outward - to the residents who are in need.
The town’s Department of Human Services served a big holiday dinner for seniors last Thursday at the Swift Community Center and is now taking sign ups for the Christmas meal. That deadline is Dec. 7 and the dinner is on Dec. 15.
No sign up is needed at the St. Luke's Church on Pierce Street where Christ’s Community Kitchen will be open at 5 p.m. tonight. On the menu will be a Thanksgiving-themed Turkey Tetrazzini. All are welcome to enjoy a meal in a community setting. There is a free-will offering asked for those who can give. Next month, the dinner will be on Dec. 19. More than 100 came to eat in October.
At Christ Church on Cedar Ave. at Post Road, the Needs Ministry has jumped from helping around 30 people to as many as 70. Open Friday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon, the Needs Ministry makes available soap, toothpaste and other essentials donated by parishioners.
There is a similar program at the Westminster Unitarian Church, where the Sharing Locker is open the third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to noon. They hand out daily-need items such as deodorant, laundry detergent, razors, toilet paper, paper towels, pet food, etc.
Christ Church participates in the East Greenwich Interfaith Food Cupboard, an emergency food pantry program, but during the holidays does pack up food baskets if they receive or know of a special need.
While the two churches are seeing an increase in clients, the Department of Senior and Human Services numbers are about the same as last year. That apparently is due to the fact their help is limited to residents of the town while requests to the churches come in from the region.
Help with food is also available Tuesday mornings from 10 to noon from a food pantry at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church on Division Street. On Fridays they serve soup and sandwiches from 10 a.m. to noon.
This year the Interfaith Food Cupboard has teamed up with the Department of Senior and Human Services and residents who come for a food basket will be given a voucher for a turkey too. The Interfaith Food Cupboard, housed at the Episcopal Church, is open Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to noon. This is an emergency food pantry primarily for East Greenwich residents or by referral. No one is turned away, but residents of other communities are directed to food cupboards in their own town for future assistance.
East Greenwich seniors and spouses 55 and older who sign up and disabled individuals of any age can request to have a Christmas holiday meal delivered on Dec. 22. Donations of grocery store gift cards or money to fund the holiday meals can be taken to the DSHS office at the Swift Community Center or mailed to the Town of East Greenwich, Attn: Senior and Human Services, 125 Main St.
Right now the department is also matching requests from families who need assistance for the Christmas holidays with residents who want to help. To adopt a family call 886-8638 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays by Dec. 2. If you volunteer, DSHS will provide general information about a family. Unwrapped gifts should be delivered to the Swift Community Center. Volunteers who don’t have time to shop can also choose to help by donating gift cards, money and even wrapping paper.
Looking beyond the holidays, any local resident who anticipates needing help with heating bills can contact the DSHS or call Westbay Community Action at 732-4660 to inquire about assistance programs.