Saturday, April 28, 2012

Things heating up for Interfaith Action Initiative

The Rev. Bert Marshall spoke about the CROP Walk to fight hunger at the Friday, April 20, meeting of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative.

This post is made up of two items: A article for the May newsletter of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and a press release to help promote the annual Letter Carriers Food Drive to Stamp Out Hunger.     

Things heating up for the Interfaith Action Initiative

The Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative is now two years old, and activity shows no sign of letting up. Rather, the NBIAI’s Friendship Center Food Pantry at 43 Eagle St. in North Adams experienced a record-setting Wednesday on April 25, with a whopping 120 households served in its first session and 35 in its second session for a total of 155 for the day. We also added 16 new member households.
The 2012 postal service food drive will be held on Saturday, May 12; please be generous. A large portion of the food collected in North Adams, Clarksburg and Florida will go to the Friendship Center. Food Distribution Coordinator Mark Lincourt is seeking volunteers to help on the day of the drive to help unload and sort the food. Call the Friendship Center at 664-0123 to volunteer.
Other important news: 
• The April 20 NBIAI meeting featured a talk with the Rev. Bert Marshall of Church World Service about reviving the CROP Walk against hunger in Northern Berkshire. Our next meeting, on Friday, May 19, at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of North Adams will be a gathering of area food pantries to talk about our respective operations.
• The NBIAI launched its first letter drive fundraising campaign in mid-April and early indications are encouraging. The Friendship Center Food Pantry requires about $28,000 per year to operate and we have lost the major source of funding we had during the first year of the pantry. Anyone interested in helping can send a check made out to The Friendship Center Food Pantry to The Friendship Center, 43 Eagle St., North Adams, MA 01247. All donations are tax deductible.
• Spurred in part by the successful filming and airing of our March NBIAI meeting on the financial needs of the Friendship Center, the NBIAI is launching a monthly program titled “In the Company of Friends” on Northern Berkshire Community Television Corp’s Channel 15. Keep an eye out for times of the upcoming program.
The NBIAI is a group of people of various faiths and denominations working together with others of good will to find ways to serve our community. In addition to the food pantry, the Initiative runs an emergency voucher systems and its monthly meetings focus on various topics of community interest. 
For more about the NBIAI and the Friendship Center, visit our Facebook page, our blog at or call Mark Rondeau at 664-0130. The Friendship Center Food Pantry is located at 43 Eagle St. in North Adams and is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Wednesday. Phone: 664-0123.

(Note: Keep an eye out on local listings, for the second installment of "In the Company of Friends" is being taped on Monday, April 30, with Mark Lincourt as host. Our ongoing fundraising drive and the letter carriers food drive will be the topics of this half-hour program).

Donate May 12 to annual Letter Carriers Food Drive

NORTH ADAMS — The theme of the annual Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on Saturday, May 12, will be Nice Day for a Drive.”
Local letter carriers and volunteers will transport and sort bags of donated non-perishable food left by the mail boxes of residents and businesses. Local Branch #286 of the National Association of Letter Carriers in Adams, North Adams, Williamstown and the hilltowns, in partnership with local volunteers, will collect and deliver the food donations to area meal sites, the Berkshire Food Project and Louison House, in addition to local food pantries.
Needed are such staple food items as baked beans, soups, tuna, creeal, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, canned fruit, canned tomatoes and vegetables, and spaghetti sauce. Also desperately needed are paper and personal hygiene products.
Due to the bad economy and cuts in governmental subsidies, donations are needed more than ever. Just one site which receives donations from the food drive — The Friendship Center Food Pantry in North Adams — has seen a growing need since it opened 14 months ago. 
On one recent day, April 25, the weekly pantry served a record 120 households in its first session and 35 in its second session for a total of 155 in one day. Needless to say, shelves were nearly bare by the end of  the day.
So please remember to set aside some recently bought and nurtritious non-perishable foods and/or paper and hygiene items for the Saturday, May 12, annual Letter Carriers Food Drive.

(Note: Just came across some preliminary statistics after last year's letter carrier drive. The carriers brought just short of 8,000 lbs. of food to the North Adams Post Office; Adams was about 5,000 lbs.; and Williamstown about 2,400 lbs. It would be great to beat these totals this year.)

Thanks for reading this and God Bless,

Mark Rondeau