Good Neighbors: Bristolians Help Food Pantry With One of Largest Annual Drives
Bristol Rotary Club food drive delivers hundreds of boxes to Bristol Good Neighbors.
The Bristol community came together on Sunday to conduct a large-scale food drive for the Bristol Good Neighbors Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry. The parking lot of BankNewport was turned into a makeshift headquarters for drop-off, collection and sorting of hundreds of non-perishable food items. The food drive was sponsored by the Bristol Rotary Club, with help from the Bristol Fire Department.
“It feels so good to give out to those less fortunate, especially now with the way the economy it is,” said Cidalia Rodrigues, President of Bristol Rotary Club and Vice President of BankNewport.
Rodrigues said the group collected and delivered 150 boxes last year, and expected to do at least the same this year. She said the Rotary Club delivered plastic bags to people’s doors two weeks ago asking for donations to be put inside the bags and left outside on the day of the drive. On Sunday, fire trucks—sirens on—and volunteers drove the streets of Bristol collecting the items, then delivering them to the white tent in the bank parking lot, where items were separated into various categories including pasta, veggies and desserts.
Weather was favorable and spirits were high during the event. A group of women spontaneously burst into song, singing “On the Road to Mandalay,” a Rotary Club favorite. Others passed out coffee while chatting with friends and neighbors.
Eleven-year-old Ellie Knapman, whose mother is part of the Rotary Club, has participated in the event since she was a small child.
“It feels good to be part of something in the community,” she said.
Diane Verdolotti, who was overseeing a group of 20 to 30 students from Mt. Hope High School, echoed the sentiment.
“It’s almost like Christmas or Thanksgiving. We look forward to this,” she said.
Meanwhile, over at Bristol Good Neighbors, Executive Director Ann Wiard and volunteers were prepping a pasta and meatball dinner for the food drive volunteers. Wiard said they used food from the pantry donated by the community for the meal. She said the drive was one of the biggest of the year with most of the food going into monthly food bags at the pantry and the rest being used by the kitchen for meals.
“We’re able to exist because of food drives like this,” Wiard said. “It enables us to use our funding resources for other important programs.”