SOUTH HADLEY — Pastor Anna Tew and Barbara Callan-Bogia of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church presented Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food pantry Director Mary Lou Guarnera a check for $800.

Our Savior’s, located at 319 Granby Rd., hosted a Grace Notes Concert on May 19 to celebrate Pentecost with a free will offering for the NHN Food Pantry.

The idea for the event came from their music director Ania Bostock.

The congregation wanted to hear more of Bostock’s music ability and Bostock suggested hosting a concert where some of her students could showcase their talent as well while raising money for Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

Musicians that day were Bostock, Wayne Corso, Maya Checiek, Bartosz Checiek, Zahra Minhaj and Brandon O’Connor.

Callan-Bogia talked about how the concert went.

She said, “The concert was fabulous. The music was so engaging and fluid. The musical talents of the children astounded us. Everyone played difficult pieces and it was an honor to be in that space listening to them play.”
The concert raised money for a good cause and Callan-Bogia said she was very pleased with the amount of money raised.

She added, “We were pleasantly surprised by how much money was raised. As Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Pantry is a cause that we support each month with donated items it was inspiring to have the community come out and support those in need.”

Callan-Bogia said the event would not have been a success without everyone who helped. She added, “It was a team effort by the church members to pull this off. Everyone was terrific from designing the program, setting up the area, making food, cleaning up, etc. It was a wonderful afternoon of service all the way around.”

Guarnera said she was very appreciative and grateful of Our Savior’s and said that the church is always so generous and faithful in giving to the pantry.

“It was a wonderful surprise. Financial donations are really helpful because we make it a point to keep milk, egg, cheese and fresh produce here because there are so many people who’ve been impacted by the inflation and it makes it difficult for them to purchase enough or any so we try to keep that here because it’s an important part of anyone’s nutrition, especially children,” Guarnera added.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a client-choice food pantry serving South Hadley and Granby. It allows people seeking food assistance to choose for themselves what products they receive.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors produces a list of food available and prepares individual packages based on a client’s selection.

Guarnera said having a client pick their own food allows them to enjoy the food they are receiving.

She added, “We think that if we give them food that we have chosen, that doesn’t necessarily feed them because there could be things that they don’t like, that their allergic to or for whatever reason they can’t eat. We think it’s important for them to be able to choose their own food plus it helps preserve a level of dignity.”

Those looking to receive food from the pantry is as easy as “showing up,” according to Guarnera.

“We would really love to see families come and get food for their kids. Children can benefit from the donation the most because they can’t be strong without fresh produce and dairy,” she added.

The food pantry is located at 30 Carew St. and is open Wednesday from 12:30-6 p.m. or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Interested clients can pull into the parking lot where they will receive an enrollment form and a menu where they can check off what they want.

Volunteers will then take the menu, retrieve them and put it in the client’s car.

“All they have to do is show up. There is no appointment, it’s not a big deal and people can come when they need to, we don’t restrict them,” Guarnera said. “All the feedback we get from the families is just pure gratitude because everything is so expensive now and they do have a very hard time but they can get it here every time they come and we are happy to give it to them.”

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