GREENWICH, Conn. – Thanksgiving is always a busy time for the Greenwich nonprofit organization Neighbor to Neighbor. But donations – and the need for those donations – will likely reach record-breaking levels this holiday season in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“Since the storm, we’ve had a record number of clients. It’s been constant,” Neighbor To Neighbor Executive Director Nancy Coughlin said. “Between the storm, some people losing everything they had and Thanksgiving coming, it was a double-whammy. The good news is that we’ve also been tremendously blessed with record donations.”
Coughlin said 250 turkeys were given to clients Monday, the largest donation of its kind in the organization’s history.
The basement of Christ Church Greenwich on East Putnam Avenue, where Neighbor To Neighbor operates, was jam-packed with bags of clothing donations with barely enough room to walk Tuesday afternoon. Just that morning, the basement had been nearly empty, according to Coughlin.
Neighbor to Neighbor was founded in 1975 in the basement of Christ Church by a group of individuals “as a clearinghouse for the distribution of free clothing and food to people with emergency needs in Greenwich, Stamford and Port Chester,” according to its website.
People who apply for assistance can get help based on need and the size of their family. The food pantry functions like a grocery store, where clients purchase items with points instead of money.
Neighbor to Neighbor board member Julie Ricciardi has been volunteering since she was in seventh grade. The storm and the holiday season have brought out the best in the town, she said.
“Every year I am so grateful for the generosity of this town,” she said. “It’s incredible to witness. And you can really witness it because there are a lot of donations of all kinds.”
Ricciardi expected the storm to create a need among Greenwich residents who may have not previously needed Neighbor To Neighbor.
“There are always situations in life that are unexpected. What Neighbor to Neighbor tries to do is serve all those people with as much grace and dignity as if it was one of us,” she said. “I think this is the great meeting place where this town comes together. And this is the time of year where you really get to see it.”