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Blessed Sacrament pulls off first drive-by grocery distribution

  • Blessed Sacrament Church offered its first weekly grocery distribution on Saturday. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

  • John Leary, deacon at Blessed Sacrament Church, greets people at the grocery distribution set-up at Beacon Field. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

  • A volunteer loads groceries in the back of a trunk on at the grocery distribution drive-by put on by Greenfield's Blessed Sacrament Church. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

  • Volunteers from Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenfield unload a truck with groceries for the first weekly drive-by grocery distribution event. Staff photo/MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer
Published: 4/5/2020 5:55:57 PM

GREENFIELD — A young woman drove up alongside Beacon Field on Saturday where volunteers were busy loading bags of food into the trunks of cars.

As she approached John Leary, deacon at Blessed Sacrament Church, she rolled down her window, popped her trunk and asked for three bags. She was there to pick up groceries for her mother, too.

After a brief exchange with Leary, who greeted each person who stopped at the first weekly drive-by grocery distribution on Saturday, she turned up the radio and started dancing in her seat.

“We’re all miserable, but we’re in this together,” she said, belting the lyrics to the song on the radio, “Uptown Funk.”

The woman continued to sing and dance while volunteers loaded groceries into her trunk. Leary started dancing, too.

As she drove away, she shouted an enthusiastic “thank you” to the deacon and his volunteers.

Leary kept dancing.

“I’m overwhelmed,” he said. “I had this vision, and it’s coming true.”

For the past 12 years, Leary has run the Bread of Life Kitchen, a service similar to Meals on Wheels that delivers hot, homemade meals to local seniors and those who are housebound. But in light of advisories set forth by the state to limit the spread of COVID-19, he realized he was going to have to adjust how he helped people in need.

Leary asked the city for permission to set up a weekly grocery distribution center at Beacon Field on Saturday. People drove up to the first-base side of the field, where volunteers loaded bags of cereal, canned soup, pasta, tuna, rice and beans, as well frozen meats and fresh vegetables that were packed separately.

Leary said the event started at 10 a.m. on Saturday, but cars had already begun lining up as early 9:30 a.m.

They had 260 bags to give away, but after the first hour of distribution, Leary began to worry they would have to eventually turn away people. He said he prayed that wouldn’t happen.

But as the last car pulled up to him, Leary noticed the line was gone. They loaded the final grocery bags into the person’s car.

“We had enough food to give to everybody,” he said.

In keeping with restrictions on gatherings, there were about 10 volunteers helping with groceries. Leary said neighbors on Beacon Street were supportive and understanding of the traffic the drive-by distribution brought to their street.

“We had a lot of help from a lot of people,” he said.

The drive-by grocery distribution will take place at Beacon Field every Saturday at 10 a.m. for as long as the pandemic lasts.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263.




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