Ham for the holidays: Elks, family center team up to donate meals

  • Andea Ociesa Sears and Jimena De Pareja of the Montague Catholic Social Ministries accept some 50 ham dinners into their Ave A location from Judy Dacyczyn, left, Exalted Ruler of the Montague Elks. The Montague Elks helped spearhead the charity drive to help out local families. December 22, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz...

  • Andrea Ociesa Sears and Jimena De Pareja of the Montague Catholic Social Ministries bring 50 ham dinners into their Ave A site. The Montague Elks helped spearhead the charity drive to help out local families. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • The Montague Catholic Social Ministries and the Montague Elks arranged for 50 families to have a full ham dinner for the holidays. Here, Paula Clemons of Greenfield picks up her family’s dinner on Friday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Friday, December 22, 2017

TURNERS FALLS — Members of the Montague Elks Lodge brought 50 laundry baskets to Montague Catholic Social Ministries on Friday. But they weren’t there to use any washers or dryers. — these baskets were filled with all the fixings for Christmas meals to brighten the season for 50 area families.

“This is all Elks-funded,” said Andrea Ociesa Sears, a social worker with the non-denominational organization at 41 Third St. “They decided last year with their fundraising efforts to support Montague Catholic Social Ministries and they did again this year.”

The food was delivered in a Kathleen Tomaus Catering van owned by Elks Kathy and Joe Tomaus, and it was unloaded with the help of Sears, social worker Jimena De Pareja, and Montague Elks Exalted Ruler Judy Dacyczyn and her husband, Steve. Judy Dacyczyn said the food was obtained through the generosity of local businesses like Food City.

“Food City was awesome to us,” she said. “Without their help, this wouldn’t even be possible.”

The baskets consisted of a ham, a bag of carrots, a bag of potatoes, rolls, apple sauce and a pie. They took up about half the floor space inside MCSM’s family center, which holds a parent-child play group three mornings a week.

Sears said most of the families signed up for the meals live in Montague and Greenfield, though there are a few in Buckland. One woman arrived as early as 1 p.m. Friday to pick up her food.

Greenfield resident Maggie Smith also picked up a meal she will share with her boyfriend and year-and-a-half-old daughter on Christmas.

“It looks really great and I’m really grateful,” she said. “The holidays are really hard.”

Smith said she is friends with MCSM Executive Director Heather Wood Treme and the organization assisted her in getting a grant to help pay the first month’s rent on an apartment she needed. She said agencies like MCSM are a big help.

“I think Franklin County really needs it,” she said.

Sears, who said she was the director of education for Franklin and Hampshire County Head Start until taking her “retirement job” at MCSM four years ago, said the meals will be an enormous help to area families. She also said community members donated 100 Christmas gifts that will be given out to children between 9 a.m. and noon today.

More information on MCSM can be found at www.mcsmcommunity.org.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 258
On Twitter: @DomenicPoli