Abington Strong helps those in need

Abington resident Joseph LaPointe lives across the street from the Abington Food Pantry on Plymouth Street.  On Tuesday evenings, LaPointe and his wife, Kaitlyn, frequently observe families in need lining up at the pantry to receive basic necessities: food, cleaning supplies, and hygiene products. And when the pandemic started, they began noticing the weekly lines growing and they wanted to help.

LaPointe spoke out on Facebook about what they were witnessing. A friend, Kaitlyn Sherman, reached out, as Sherman’s mother, Cathy Gambino, is involved with the Abington Food Pantry.

“We had Cathy reach out to Mary Hickey at the Abington Food Pantry to ask if anyone had approached her about possible fundraising ideas,” said LaPointe.  “We wanted to make sure we weren’t stepping on toes or competing with another organization. We were just concerned with helping local families.” 

With a bit of inspiration stemming from the Whitman Strong project, along with guidance from State Rep. Alyson Sullivan, the LaPointe’s created the Abington Strong Fund, which is intended to help the Abington Food Pantry, as well as those impacted by the economic downturn.

“Our starting goal is $10,000, but from I’ve learned from the wonderful volunteers at the Abington Food Pantry the ripple effect from this,” added LaPointe.  “The shutdown will have repercussions for months to come. Not only will families need food and basic supplies, but sooner or later the power, phone, or rent bills will be due. Families in town may not have jobs to return to, so the need for food as well as financial assistance will actually increase as the economy begins to re-open.”

With the help of Lane Printing, ASF, as it’s called, is raising funds by selling 1-sided and 2-sided signs, decals and vehicle magnets.  Decals are available at Sub Galley, which is lcoated at 74 Brockton Ave. Limited items are also available at the Town Clerk’s Office at Town Hall.  The foundation is planning to soon offer t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts featuring the Abington Strong logo.

“Together we connected with local residents, Frank and Carolyn Lane of Lane Printing,” said LaPointe.  “The Lanes and Lane Printing have an extensive background of charitable work and had the tools in place to help us get off the ground quickly.”

Hickey said the pantry has been thrilled for the additional help.  Currently, due to the virus, the CDC does not allow the food pantry to take in items; only monetary donations are accepted. Pantry volunteers then shop for items at the Greater Boston Food Bank.

“Every dollar that we get is like spending $8 at the food bank,” said Hickey.  “We get about 2,500 pounds a week and we’re blessed that everything has been great there.

“Folks are getting a lot of food, a large dry box, large frozen box and produce,” added Hickey.  “It’s at least $100 worth of groceries, all quality product.”

But Hickey echoed LaPointe, that the Abington Strong effort will really show its value in the coming months.

“The financial end is going to be huge in July and August,” added Hickey. “When people don’t have the money to pay their rent or pay their bills, I think the money is going to help a lot for people.”

LaPointe said there are ways families unable to make a financial contribution can help.

“All we ask is this: like, share, or comment on our social media posts, reach out to ASF, and we will put a sign on your front lawn,” said LaPointe. 

Donors can make contributions by cash or check — made out to The Abington Food Pantry — as well as donations via Venmo @Abington-Strong-Fund.

“I would just like to say thank you to everyone who has purchased a sign, donated directly to the fund, volunteered their time, or assisted in helping ASF get off the ground running,” said LaPointe.  “Thank you to my partners from the Gambino/Sherman Family, State Rep. Alyson Sullivan, Frank and Carolyn Lane/Lane Printing, Mary Hickey and all the volunteers at the Abington Food Pantry as well as our ‘Sign Delivery Squad’ lead by my beautiful, and pregnant, wife, Kaitlyn and our daughters, Kinley and Vera.”

Hickey said the Food Pantry is also grateful for the outpouring of support they have received from everyone in the community.

“The wealth of help is amazing,” she said. “We are blessed that all of these people who donate their time are keeping us going.”

Rep. Sullivan credited the LaPointes for helping the community come together in a moment of crisis.

“While this pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our community, our Commonwealth and our Nation; our community response has once again risen to the challenge,” she said. “The strength of every community are the good people that see others as neighbors.  The Abington Strong Fund is a wonderful example of the strength and generosity of this community.  It has been an honor to join members of our community to help get the Abington Strong fund started to help those in need in our community.”

“The community response has been amazing,” said LaPointe. “Anyone who has lived in Abington knows we take care of our own.”

More information on the Abington Strong Fund is available on Facebook at Facebook.com/AbingtonStrongFund or by emailing Abington.Strong.Fund@gmail.com

Written by Michele Christian

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