Standish volunteer keeps pantry doors open

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STANDISH — Thanks to the work of a determined volunteer, Catherine’s Cupboard food pantry will not close for good Dec. 19 as previously decided.

Saint Joseph’s College, which runs Catherine’s Cupboard, announced Oct. 22 that it would close the pantry. Instead, Amy Fitzgerald, who has been a volunteer at the pantry for six years, will take over and keep it running. 

Fitzgerald said that as soon as the closing announcement was made, “That’s when I started working. I was frustrated.”

When she told the college she wanted to take over, leadership there offered to work with her, she said.

“Slowly everything will switch over. (The college is) being very nice and cares a lot about the pantry, so they want it to continue, as well. They’re making it a lot easier for me doing it this way. Just because it’s not going to be run by them and will be run by volunteers, they still are willing to help out in ways they can help out in,” she said.

Fitzgerald, who has lived in Standish since she was 5, will step in Dec. 19.

She is establishing her own 501(c)3 nonprofit. Once that’s in place, Saint Joseph’s will transition Catherine’s Cupboard to her. 

She is also working on assembling a new board of directors. 

The pantry will remain housed in Standish Town Hall for the foreseeable future, according to Town Manager Bill Giroux.

“I’ve offered to help them look for potential long-term sites, but in the meantime the town continues to be supportive of hosting it until a longer-term solution can be found,” he said.

“We need them to continue to make it work at Town Hall with the other users because it’s in the community room, so there’s several other groups that use that,” Giroux said.

Catherine’s Cupboard has always received donations, but Fitzgerald said the pantry will now rely more on donations, fundraising and grants to finance its operations.

“We’re looking for the community to step up,” she said.

This support is especially important given how many programs the pantry runs, she said. Catherine’s Cupboard – which provides food for up to 50 area families a week – has food pantries on Mondays and Wednesdays, senior boxes for residents who are 60 and older and a backpack program for kids, among other programs. 

“We work with a lot of people in this community to make it what it is, and that’s why it’s so special,” she said.

The pantry will take its usual holiday break from Dec. 19 to Jan. 7. Afterwards, it will be business as normal, although “once we put a board together, there might be changes,” Fitzgerald said.

For now, she is thrilled that the pantry will continue to serve her hometown, as it has for the past decade.

“It’s been a Christmas miracle,” she said.

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at jvaughan@keepmecurrent.com. 

Six-year Catherine’s Cupboard volunteer Amy Fitzgerald will soon be taking over the food pantry to keep it running. 

Catherine’s Cupboard food pantry is seeking donations of non-perishable food items. 

The community room in Standish Town Hall will continue to be the home of Catherine’s Cupboard food pantry for the foreseeable future.