The Food Pantry at St. Mary’s Mohegan Lake is an interfaith community based not for profit service organization staffed by volunteers. Our mission is to provide supplemental food to families or individuals who live in the Mohegan Lake and greater Yorktown – Cortlandt area. We seek to provide nutritional, health and referral information to facilitate our patrons in moving beyond the need for emergency food.
Community coming together helping families in need
THREE CHEERS for Mrs. Kraemer and Ms. Haugh’s senior class in the Thrive Program at Walter Panas!! These students created and donated 60 Easter Baskets. There will be many joyful children Easter morning because they took the time to care. And this is not the first time these students gave to the pantry. They also collected and donated food for the Thanksgiving distribution. What an inspiration for us all.
And they were not the only youth and in our community that stepped up to the plate. Troop 238 Boy Scouts from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton collected and donated 42 Easter Basket helping us reach the pantry goal of over 300 baskets for distribution. Again this was not the first time. Troop 238 rebuilt the onsite Community Garden last year. Gardening time is nearing. Spring is in the air.
“Life’s most persistent question “What Are We Doing for Others?” Dr. Martin Luther King
Each year the pantry offers the opportunity to graduating high school seniors to submit an essay focusing on their experience in working with the issue of hunger, and how it has impacted their ethical thinking about hunger, hungry people and the problem of health and hunger locally and globally. A small monetary award is given to winners to help them on their way. Valerie was one of this year’s winners. Her essay touched our hearts and reminds each of us why we are here.
Humans living in the world are not the same. Some people are more talented than
others. Some people are more kind than others and some people have more money than others. Poverty is a real thing. To make progress against poverty is therefore one of the most urgent global goals. Hunger is a big problem; millions of people struggle to get by because of unemployment and the rising cost of living. I have experienced issues throughout my life and it has impacted my ethical thinking about some of these problems.
My personal experience made me the way that I am, and the kind of person that I want to
be. My name is Valeria, and I came to the United States from Ecuador when I was 14. In
Ecuador I had a good life. I remember me and my family eating together every Sunday, traveling with the exact amount of money, going to the park and just enjoying the fresh air and my mom telling me “we have food at home” every time that I asked for candy. In truth, my dad had a nice job, I had a nice house and I went to private school. I loved to go to my grandma’s house with my family. I had the best childhood there. I am the first granddaughter so my grandparents have nothing but love and caring for me and my siblings. Fortunately, my family had visas and they came every summer. But then, my dad lost his job. By that time, I didn't totally understand what that meant. I was used to things that my parents could no longer offer me. The company gave my father some money until he got a new job, but my dad decided to go apply for a visa. My dad told us that he was going to the US for a couple of months--his goal was to get a job and be able
to send us back money. My grandma helped us a lot while he was gone, but it was not enough. Eventually, my dad called my mom and he said that he missed us, that he can't live without his kids, his family. He asked my mom to come to the US, she said yes. I came in February of 2016. It was a new experience for me, and yet I knew I was going to miss everything I had ever known. My entire life was uprooted, and it was extremely difficult to say goodbye to all of the things I had grown up with--my family, friends, ballet, school, my language ... and of course, my country. This move had such a profound effect on me that I can't even talk about it without tears in my eyes.
It Takes a Caring Community
Many of our day to day activities are curtailed and folks in our community are feeling the pinch of economic insecurity. It’s tough feeding yourself and your loved ones when businesses are closed and layoffs are plenty. It is during these times sharing stories of how neighbors are helping neighbors gives us hope for the future.
Home, no school, no soccer practice or games. So what do you do? Sit at home and feel sorry about what’s going on or take action. Emyln Doell decided to take up the ball. She set up a virtual 5k Run for her Shrub Athletic Soccer Team. Entry fees from family and friends were collected and over $700 was donated to the pantry to help feed the families of our community. Way to go Emyln and Shrub Oak Athletic!!!
Every year in the spring Lakeland West Girl Scouts hold a food drive to benefit the pantry. Over the weekend the troops, leaders and parents stand outside local supermarkets and request donations for the pantry. Who can’t resist a friendly smile and a simple ask to help a neighbor. The drives were always so successful and always helped restock the pantry shelves after the winter and holiday giving. Well once again to our surprise, Lakeland West Girl Scouts reached out and planned a drive in this year of uncertainty and challenge. No longer did the scouts stand at the doors of supermarkets, but for this unusual time they were at the door of seven homes that accepted donations from neighbors, family and friends. The scout leaders and parents came with several carloads of donated goods from their earnest and honest collection. “A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency." (Girl Scout Manual 1947). That certainly holds true for our Lakeland Girl Scouts West.
The volunteers and the people we serve are so grateful to all those who have stepped up so that together we can.
Just a phone call from Yorktown Supervisor, Matt Slater asking “How can we help?” Just a phone call from Matt Slater to Denise Kness, Vice President of the Lakeland School Board. A call went out to The Lakeland School District Community. A rapid response from Lakeland’s parents, teachers, support staff and administrative staff ensued and continues to be overwhelming generous and awe-inspiring. A woman had her Shop Rite Van delivery sent directly to the pantry. A nine-year-old boy with musical talent held an hour long live performance DJ set and asked that donations be sent to the pantry. A woman e-mailed asking when and where she could drop off donations of boxed food she had purchased at BJs. Lakeland High School Basketball Team collected and donated $300. Mike Sansotta, a local businessman, had an idea and an offer. He is able to buy and deliver items in bulk. So with donations from The Lakeland Board of Education and others Mr. Sansotta has been delivering large donations of grocery items. Just this past Friday he delivered 300 dozen eggs, 180 half gallons of milk, 480 yogurts and 300 loaves of bread. Then on Saturday Mr. Sansotto arrived with boxes of fresh hard rolls and other breads to be distributed. So many moments of giving, too numerous to mention them all. Food and money continues to pour in to support the pantry and the community we serve. We, who volunteer, and those we serve are so grateful. The words THANK YOU are so simple and feel inadequate but it is all we have.
Our dedicated and courageous core of volunteers receive donations and prepare bags on Friday. Last Friday they spent about 5 hours completing this arduous task. Bless them all. On Saturday, May 1st, 293 individuals and families received groceries. During the month of April 781 individuals and families were provided food to sustain them through this crisis we are all experiencing. The numbers served just keep rising but the helping hand of The Lakeland Community the pantry is rising to meet this challenge.
A Warm and Continuous Thank You to All
During These Uncertain Times
Soon to be 10 year old, Gina, asks questions. She wanted to help after her grandmother explained to her that there were people who were not as fortunate as her own family when Gina saw some homeless folks in New York City while visiting her Uncle Thomas. Gina wanted to do something to help. Her grandmother told her that there were families right here in our community that go to food pantries to provide for their families.
Gina decided to go shopping. Gina took our food pantry shopping list and her family to the supermarket. Gina was very careful to select a variety of grocery items. Her great grandmother, Myrtle, chipped in and bought a ham for the holiday distribution. Wow, four generations working together to share with others all inspired by Gina's question.
What a thoughtful young lady and an inspiration to us all.
The pantry received an e-mail from six year old Jason's mom. Jason had a viewed a video on You Tube about folks bringing food to a food bank. Well, he thought this was a great idea and wanted to do the same. Jason asked his mom and she concurred. But things got busy as they usually do, but Jason persisted. This was important. Mom did some research and found that there was a pantry right in the neighborhood. So Jason and mom went shopping and selected 12 cans of vegetables to purchase and bring to the pantry, Jason accompanied by his mom came on a Saturday morning and delivered his donation. Not only did he drop off the cans of vegetables, but he placed them on the tables where they belonged to be a choice for that day. So we can all learn from You Tube if we make the right choices as did six year old, Jason. It's important to help your neighbor!
Last Saturday morning, computer in hand, I arrived at the pantry to begin distribution. Standing at the table was a young man of seven accompanied by his parents. In the young man's hands was a coffee container. John, one of the pantry's core volunteers, introduced the family. They had been former neighbors of John's. Well to my surprise, Craig Caravello was here to donate money to the pantry. Craig had helped a friend collect money in the neighborhood for his local football league. Craig had learned at his religious instructions class how important it was to help those in need where ever you may find them. Craig, on his own, put two and two together and decided to collect funds for the "poor". Craig and two friends brought out two orange cones and placed them in their cul-de-sac and began stopping cars, asking for contributions. Craig's mom looked out the window and saw the boys, wondering what were they doing? She went out and discovered that in their cupped hands they had already collected change. Craig's mom was amazed. She supported their efforts, brought them inside to make a poster and gathered a collection can. She then accompanied them outside and stayed with them as they continued to complete the task they had set before them. Craig and friends collected $70. Now where to donate? Mrs. Caravello recognized John in a picture from the pantry website. Here's the place. Giving help to those in our community. So that is how I got to meet this amazing young man last Saturday morning.
I began volunteering at the Food Pantry @ St. Marys in October of 2010. I was required to perform 240 hours of community service due to a very poor decision on my part resulting in a DWI. It was a very difficult and pivotal time in my life, I needed to fulfill the court requirement but was also hoping to make that requirement a meaningful contribution. I went to the food pantry to see if they needed any help and was welcomed by all without judgment. I quickly saw the kindness and genuine concern each volunteer showed the clients that came through their doors. I was touched and grateful to be a part of it. When my community service requirement was complete I knew without a doubt that I would continue my service there. I feel like I belong to a small family within a large community that is always welcoming and never judging. They were there at a difficult time in my life and now I feel like I can pay it forward. The work done at the food pantry is nothing short of amazing and this community is blessed to have them there.
Friends and neighbors,
We the participating veterans in and around Westchester, Cortlandt, and Montrose would like to take this time to thank our food pantry for giving us their support and kind words that mean so much to so many. Your selection of food is outstanding and really helps us help ourselves in many ways. I can’t say enough about the volunteers, the boy scouts (formerly one myself, troop 531) and great staff are the best. I look forward to seeing their kind and smiling faces every week, often the best day of my (our) week as these are truly trying times. I have even made some new friends and making friends is hard for this veteran. You guys deserve a medal and the world’s biggest hug and kiss. You are a vital service to our community and I pray will always be there for us. Without getting to mushy, I’ll end this brief letter by saying again and again thank you!!!!!!!
God Bless You All
I was introduced to the food pantry by my mother three years ago when I needed community service hours for my Confirmation. At first I was apprehensive because I didn’t know what to expect but what I thought was going to be a few hours of my time ended up being a family that I can’t wait to see every weekend. Normally when volunteering at a place you feel that you’re standing on the sidelines but when I help here I always feel needed no matter what the task. Also I have never been in an environment that makes me feel so appreciated for just 2 1/2 hours of my time on a Saturday morning. Volunteering at the food pantry gave me an opportunity to see first-hand how wonderful it can be when a community comes together to help its neighbors. No one in our community should go hungry when so many of us have even just a little extra to spare. Our elderly, veterans and children are so vulnerable during this difficult economic downturn and I am so thankful that I can be a part of helping them. I see every week the difference even the smallest contribution can make to a family in need and for that insight I am truly grateful to the pantry because it will forever change how I see things.
ST MARY'S--no ordinary food pantry
Words cannot express what St. Mary's means to me and my family. Being a volunteer and a patron, I see both sides. I love helping out and I am proud of all the hard work all the volunteers put in every week so people who are struggling can have food. I have been helping out at the pantry for 13 years and I’m very proud to be part of this great mission. My 2 older daughters, who are now teenagers started out playing in the nursery and now volunteer at the pantry. I am very proud and it is wonderful to see them give back and important for them to see how many needy families depend on St. Mary's. Through the years I have made good friends and when I became pregnant again, to my surprise, the volunteers where there for me. They gave me a baby Shower, which saved our lives once again. Without them and Mother Clair I would have had nothing! Now after tragedy hit my family, again St. Mary's came through for us. They have been there with food, money, and support. I cannot express the gratitude I have for them.
St Mary's is not just a food pantry for those in need it is a beacon of hope! To me it has become our family.
Youths Helping Out
Our young friends Trevor (13) and Travis (12) Reigle created a different kind of advent calendar, one that had them add a donation of food to a box for each day of advent. Advent this year was 26 days. Trevor and his brother hand delivered the boxes of food to pantry. This was Trevor’s creative way of meeting community service requirements for his upcoming Confirmation. The family so enjoyed the experience that they hope to make it a family tradition. We are so grateful and we have so much hope for the future because of kids like Trevor and Travis. Thank you boys!