Thanksgiving is a day meant to be spent with family and friends, reflecting on life and all that we have to be thankful for. Food, fun and yes, even a little football, all make a traditional Thanksgiving celebration complete.
For many local families, however, putting together Thanksgiving dinner simply isn’t that easy. Many families are struggling with everyday meals and, sadly, the thought affording a Thanksgiving turkey is almost unimaginable.
That is where The Wilmington Food Pantry comes into play. Opened on January 11, 1999, the Food Pantry takes pride in helping provide meals for local families.
Founded by two local residents, Bob Dipalma and the late Jim Hatchey, The Wilmington Food Pantry relies completely on the generosity of local residents for its survival.
“We do net get any donations from outside organizations like Project Bread,” said DiPalma. “Everything that we provide is donated directly by the people and businesses in Wilmington.”
The building that houses the Food Pantry, The Old South School on Chesnut Street, is provided by and maintained by the town which allows the Wilmington Food Pantry to operate with no overhead expenses.
“The town is very supportive of the Food Pantry and we have no expenses whatsoever,” said Dipalma. “We are run solely by volunteers.”
Over the years the Wilmington Food Pantry has been able to provide generously for local families and, as Dipalma said, “I see what other food pantries are able to provide and I know how lucky we are.”
The idea for the Wilmington Pantry came during the holiday season when Dipalma was volunteering for a church group and he realized that, even though many struggling families had been helped with their Thanksgiving meal, they were still going hungry during the rest of the year.
“Honestly, we opened our doors in 1999 with the hope that the economic times would improve and we would be out of business in two years,” said Dipalma. “The rest is, as they say, history.”
Today, the Food Pantry serves between 80 – 85 families and, with no real economic improvement in sight, the number is growing each month. Families must be Wilmington residents and are prescreened and interviewed before receiving assistance.
This year, for Thanksgiving, The Wilmington Food Pantry was able to provide complete Turkey dinner packages complete with 16 items to give families a chance to celebrate the holiday without financial stress.
Thanks to the generosity of our community these same families are able to come to the Food Pantry throughout the year and get the help that they desperately need.
With programs that even include weekly donation of pizza’s from nine local restaurants, The Wilmington Food Pantry, is yet another example of Wilmington Residents and businesses stepping forward to support their neighbors and better the community.
“I always say that Wilmington is a great place to be broken,” said DiPalma. “We have so many generous people and programs to support our residents.”
You can stop by the Food Pantry any Saturday between 10 AM and 12 PM to make a donation. You can also find non-perishable collection bins at Luccis, Town Hall and Market Basket. You can even visit the Wilmington Memorial Library twice a year and make a donation to The Wilmington Food Pantry as part of their “Food for Fines” program.
With two refrigerators and freezers the pantry has plenty of storage and nothing goes to waste. While staples are always needed, don’t forget that items such a toiletries, toilet paper, and tissues are also needed.