The holiday season may seem a long way off, but as most people know, the holidays take a lot of planning. This is particularly true for Guilford Social Services, Guilford Food Bank, and the VFW, organizations that are in need of a temporary home for the 2017 Holiday Basket Program.
The program is normally run out of the Guilford VFW Hall, but the hall is slated for construction starting in October. Guilford Social Services Director Tammy DeFrancesco said the program produces 150 to 200 baskets annually and the volunteers are in need of a space to keep the program going this year.
DeFrancesco said while she understands “beggars cannot be choosers,” the program needs a space that is anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 square feet, on the ground floor of a building, and available for Thanksgiving basket set-up and distribution from Nov. 17 to 21 and Christmas set-up and distribution Dec. 17 to 20.
In addition, DeFrancesco said the food items would need to be housed in the space in between the holidays.
“We have to be able to spread out during the days that we’re actually running the program, and then we would pack everything up,” she said, noting the packed supplies would occupy a much smaller space until Christmas approaches. “[A]t Christmas we would spread it back out again, so we would need somebody who would allow us to keep the supplies there.”
In terms of accessibility, DeFrancesco said the space needs to allow people to pull up in their cars.
“We set it up so that people stay in their cars and they drive in, we give them the baskets with the turkeys and the fresh vegetables, and we bring it to the cars and then they can drive back out again,” she said. “So we need something that is situated where that can be done.”
While the temporary location doesn’t have to be based in Guilford, DeFrancesco said that would be ideal. She said it would also be helpful if the space were donated.
“Ideally we are looking for donated space because as it is we are going to have to rent refrigeration,” she said.
DeFrancesco said she is reaching out to the community to ask for help or ideas on a space. As to when she needs to have a space confirmed, she said sooner rather than later.
“My thing is I hate to promise so many baskets if I can’t deliver them,” she said. “That is my biggest problem…to promise someone something that I can’t deliver on and if I can’t get a space, how am I going to create something for somebody?”
Anyone with space or ideas to offer may contact Tammy DeFrancesco at Guilford Social Services, 203-453-8009, or Larry Santamaria at the VFW, 203-535-6640.