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Salvation’s Army, People’s Pint hosting Thanksgiving meals for homeless, needy

CLARIFICATION:This article mentioned an employee at The People’s Pint who could not afford a meal. Alden Booth, the restaurant and bar’s owner and founder, said that employees at The People’s Pint receive an ample meals credit for every shift they work, and may use these credits at any time they choose.

In this case, the employee had used up his meals credit prior to his shift. Even in these rare circumstances, no employee would be denied a meal due to lack of funds, said Booth.

GREENFIELD — Two organizations will host Thanksgiving dinners on Thursday for people in need — with a special emphasis on making sure the 54 homeless families staying in Greenfield hotels have a place to eat this holiday.

The Salvation Army will open its Chapman Street doors at 11 a.m. and will serve a free meal at 11:30 a.m. All are welcome to attend, said Capt. Daniel Brunelle.

The People’s Pint, on Federal Street, will then hold its first ever pay-what-you-can Thanksgiving meal from noon to 3 p.m. The local restaurant and brewery sent a special invitation to the families staying in the two hotels.

Having a space to eat with others is especially important on a holiday like Thanksgiving, which is typically centered around a large meal with family and friends, event organizers said.

“It’s nice to be able to sit down ... as a family and have this meal,” said Brunelle. “I like the fact that we can pull people together from different parts of the community and celebrate the holiday together.”

Brunelle said that between 100 and 150 people usually attend the event. The Salvation Army is preparing a small increase of food this year in preparation for some of the homeless families.

People’s Pint Chef David “Byrd” Sargent said that he has participated in similar events while working for other restaurants in the Pioneer Valley. Sargent came up with the idea this year when someone working with him at the Greenfield restaurant did not have enough money to buy dinner after his shift.

“I just thought, ‘Wow. This would be a great opportunity to do something for people,’” he said.

The People’s Pint will have its bar open, with beers on sale for normal prices. All profits from the event will go to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, said General Manager Josh Breitner.

Charity Day, the local official coordinating care for the homeless hotel families, said that everyone has been notified about the two Thanksgiving meals. While there won’t be any special transportation available that day to shuttle families, she said that they are a mobile group and don’t mind walking into the center of town.

Other families are able to return to their hometowns and stay with families and friends for the holiday, she said.

Both of the Greenfield organizations are depending on volunteers and donations to support the meals.

Brunelle said he has a dedicated group of volunteers who help out every Thanksgiving and that he has increased the number of volunteers who will be helping clean up afterwards.

And Breitner said that several local companies and farms donated produce for the dinner. Staff will also donate their time on Thanksgiving, he said.

Walk-ins are accepted at both events, but event organizers said that advance calls can help them better plan the meals. To reach the Salvation Army, call 413-773-3154. Breitner will take calls at the People’s Pint at 413-773-0333.

Food donations to needy families

The Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority will give all hotel homeless families at least one food bag this week, said Day.

The bags contain things that can be prepared in the hotel rooms — like canned vegetables, baked potatoes, boxes of stuffing and loaves of bread.

Day said that monetary and food donations from community members made the bags possible. The Center for Self-Reliance, a Community Action food pantry in Greenfield, will continue preparing food bags in December, she said.

The organization is also planning on giving holiday gifts next month and is looking for groups or individuals who want to help in the effort. Day said that they are also seeking monetary donations, grocery store gift cards, bus passes and gas cards, and will direct 100 percent of all gifts directly to the families. To contact Day, call her at 413-863-9781, ext. 151 or email her at cday@fcrhra.org.

About 60 people from 16 families attended a special meal last week, hosted by the Franklin County Community Meals Program at the Second Congregational Church. The Travel Kuz transportation company provided shuttles to the event and local service organizations attended to provide more information for the families.

Since then, more families have been attending the regularly scheduled community meals, said Sharon Pleasant, the program’s executive director.

Pleasant said that the Community Meals’ two food pantries, in Orange and at Greenfield Community College, have been giving out Thanksgiving-related food this month.

It was especially busy last week in the North Quabbin, she said. A record 189 families came to the Orange pantry last week to pick up food like stuffing, fresh potatoes, squash and canned goods.

“The food we distributed will serve over 500 people,” said Pleasant.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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