MANCHESTER — Thanks to the generous donations from the congregants of First Congregational Church of Manchester, local front-line health care staff have been eating good this week.
The church’s Caring For Those Who Care For Us fundraiser has raised $3,500 to deliver more than 200 meals from Manchester’s The Black Arrow Restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The effort was initially intended to feed employees of Beverly Hospital, but after receiving a staggering number of donations, the church was able to add the two nursing homes to its drop-off list.
“We got a lot more money than we expected,” said Christiane Alsop of Beverly, who helped organized the effort alongside Sue Parker and Linda Griffith of Manchester. “We were planning to deliver around 80 to 100 meals.”
Sixty meals were delivered to The Linden in Danvers on Thursday morning. Another 68 were dropped off at Ledgewood in Beverly the following day.
“Out front (of the Linden), there was a little poster that said, ‘Thank You,'” said Alsop Friday. “When the four staff came out they were overwhelmed. They were so grateful. (At Ledgewood), the staff told us nobody has considered them so far. They were so touched and wrote us emails saying thanks. It was so rewarding, we were jumping for joy.”
Staff had a choice between grilled chicken breast with sweet potato and green beans, turkey meat loaf with mashed potatoes and green beans, or the vegetarian option — quinoa brown rice and roasted vegetables with balsamic glaze.
Black Arrow owner Brenden Crocker said he’s been preparing donated meals for the past month.
“Between (Caring For Those Who Care For Us) and another group we’ve partnered with, COVID-19: What Can I do to Help, we’ll be at over 1,500 meals,” he said. “It’s hard work, but you feel good at the end of the day.”
Beverly Hospital will be getting 110 meals next Thursday. The meals will be feed staff in the operating room, post-anesthesia care , radiology and J2 inpatient units, as well as social service workers, switchboard employees and those who help with access services.
For the Beverly Hospital drop-off, the church partnered with local nonprofit Feed the Frontlines of the North Shore. The group was founded by Christina Comparato of Hamilton and members of her family. Since its formation around five weeks ago, FFNS has raised $45,000 and delivered 1,700 meals with help from its 10 North Shore restaurant partners.
“My sister, Julie Clifford-Smail, is a physician with North Shore Physician Group,” Comparato said. “Her husband, David, is with Beverly Hospital. He was moved over to the ICU floor for COVID. He was talking about how the morale is so, so low. All of the staff are worn out. It’s really hard to wear that mask for 12-hour shifts and see people dying.”
Comparato’s sister mentioned one of her old college friends started Feed the Frontlines in New York when the pandemic first started. Since then, chapters have popped up in Boston, California and Florida.
“I decided, ‘Let’s do it here,'” said Comparato “Within the first weeks, hundreds of people have joined up. Part of our mission is to not only help our healthcare workers but help struggling restaurants. Another big part is that we’re just serving doctors and nurses, but anyone leaving the safety of their home.”
The group is still seeking donations at its website,- www.feedthefrontlinesnorthshore.com.
“We feel like the need for donations is a strong as it was fire weeks ago when we’re started,” Comparato said.
Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or firstname.lastname@example.org.