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Nashua’s Corpus Christi among local agencies brightening Easter

By Dean Shalhoup - Senior Staff Writer | Apr 3, 2021

Bread, rolls, pastries and some produce were among the food items donated to Corpus Christi for this year's Easter dinner distribution day. (Telegraph photo by DEAN SHALHOUP)

NASHUA – Members of 150 Greater Nashua families are enjoying Easter dinner and a few little extras today, thanks to the efforts of generous donors and the staff and volunteers of Corpus Christi Food Pantry and Assistance who made sure everyone was taken care of.

Last week, the fresh hams, fixings, breads, rolls, vegetables, dessert pastries and even boxes of candy and toys for children were arranged on long and square-shaped tables outside Corpus Christi’s Crown Street home, awaiting pickup by families that signed up for assistance this year.

The volunteers, some of them members of the agency’s board of directors, clearly enjoyed helping the applicants through the process as much as the applicants appreciated the assistance that helped them put a complete Easter dinner on the table.

“Every year, we start preparing well ahead of time for this,” pantry director Maryellen Keigher said.

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to (distribute) fresh hams, and we have some knitted items, stuffed animals and toys for the kids,” she added.

Longtime Corpus Christi volunteers Marilyn Stoncius and her husband, Frank, were back at the registration table for Wednesday's distribution day for clients who signed up for Easter dinner. (Telegraph photo by DEAN SHALHOUP)

On one side of the walkway that leads to the pantry’s lower level was parked a tall, metal cart, its shelves full of packages of bread, rolls, pastries and two or three store-made cakes, items that came into the pantry as part of The Fresh Rescue Program, through which participating grocery stores – in this case, local Hannaford and Shaw’s stores – donate goods that are nearing their expiration dates.

Such distribution initiatives, which besides food also involve clothing, financial assistance and connections to other resources, are organized each Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, but in between times the agency assists as many people as possible, some of whom find themselves “struggling to make ends meet” for the first time in their lives.

Keigher remembers one such case not long ago, in which a man, desperate after his family lost all of its frozen and refrigerated food because of an extended power outage, sought assistance.

“We managed to give him one of everything we had,” Keigher said. “We were able to fill his freezer. He was so emotional he couldn’t even call us until the next day.”

Retired schoolteacher Marilyn Stoncius and her husband, Frank, were set up Wednesday at the first table ?that visitors came to when they arrived.

Children's books, toys and stuffed animals were available this year at Corpus Christi's Easter dinner distribution day. (Telegraph photo by DEAN SHALHOUP)

“Name? OK, spell it please … OK, you get one from here, one from this one and one from that one,” Stoncius said as she signed in the applicants then gave instructions about the three large boxes on her table.

The next stop was the table tended by another familiar face at Corpus Christi, Pat Rousseau, an octogenarian whom Keigher calls “my inspiration.”

“It makes us feel good, you know, that we can do something for people, especially now,” Rousseau said, referring to the pandemic and the financial and emotional toll it’s taken on so many people.

The Rev. George Mattathilani, a pastor at the neighboring Infant Jesus Church – Saint John XXIII Parish, stopped by to greet volunteers and visitors, and while there delivered a blessing.

Established about two decades ago by Nashua’s Roman Catholic parishes, Corpus Christi, according to its mission statement, is “dedicated to preventing hunger and homelessness in the community.”

The agency distributes goods and services on Monday and Wednesday mornings, and on Tuesday afternoons.

For more information, go to corpuschristifoodpantry.org. To schedule an appointment to speak with a representative, call 882-6372.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com.


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