Saturday morning at Our Lady’s Pantry is a busy place.
Outside, a dozen or so volunteers stuff boxes with meat and produce, then lift them into clients’ cars.
Inside, dozens of others pack non-perishables, breads, and bakery items into big boxes, sending them outside.
Farther back into the building, in our registration room, a number of helpers welcome our clients and sign them in for the day.
“It is here, sometimes, at Christmas, that children find a surprise waiting for them,” says Anita Bullaro, who is first to greet our clients each week.
“While the mission of Our Lady’s Pantry is simply to lessen food insecurity in our community, angels everywhere are getting creative with their generosity,” she says.
Christmas is for children and some of our benefactors, with their own children and grandchildren all grown, turn their attention to the children in the community.
Parishioners from St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, in Riverview, for example, are among those who provide car loads full of gifts for the children of our clients each December. Many of our clients are blessed with big families, and the little ones come to the Pantry with their parents on Saturday mornings.
“The children’s faces just light up when they see these toys, games, stuffed animals and dolls,” Bullaro says.
In addition, one angel, almost 100 years old and mostly bedridden now, crochets afghans all year long to keep the children warm during our chilly winters.
Another angel purchased small gifts for the children to give to their mothers.
“We wrapped these gifts and addressed them ‘To Mom,’” Bullaro says. “Each child chose one package for his or her mom on Christmas morning.
“’This is for your mom,’ I would whisper. Sssh — don’t tell her.
“So a big thanks from all of us to our many Christmas angels for your kindness,” Bullaro adds. “You know who you are. You have a big heart.”