Church pantry volunteer earns honor from Patriots charity
Volunteer Moe Camire pauses while talking about a $10,000 grant recently received at the First United Methodist Church Food Pantry in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
Moe Camire, 70, was awarded the check recently in a trip to Gillette Stadium, where he met Patriots players Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski and the team's cheerleaders.
Camire was one of five people to receive a $10,000 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award from the Patriots Charitable Foundation. He has volunteered at the First United Methodist Church pantry for 25 years, more deeply these last 10 years, he said
Camire and the church plan to use the money for food and for computers to modernize the pantry's registration system.
“I believe that nobody should go to bed hungry,” said Camire, who grew up in a West Side impoverished family of six, whose father died in World War II.
Camire said an Eagle Scout started the pantry years ago. But Camire grew and nurtured it, building a distribution window and storage shelves.
Each week, he uses his truck to bring food for pantry clients. On Mondays, he visits New Hampshire Food Bank and the Bedford Panera Bread. On Saturdays, he drives to Tyngsborough, Mass., to pick up donations from the Country Kitchen bakery.
Tuesday afternoon, he was planning to pick up a load of surplus federal government food, a distribution that takes place once every three months.
A retired maintenance-repair man, Camire said he gets help from his son, a friend and church members. The pantry also offers second-hand clothes for its clients.
“There's an awful lot of good people in this congregation. If you start a program they're right behind you, and it's successful,” Camire said.
The pantry distributes food on Tuesday mornings; about 60 people received groceries this week. When families' budgets run tight toward the end of the month, the number can swell to 90, Camire said.
The church pastor said the pantry has struggled to keep the program running, at times asking members to make donations.
“Now, with this grant, for the next two years or so we will be able to respond to a community that is in need,” said the Rev. Luis E. Benavides. “We feel really, really blessed.”
In 2010, the pantry made 32,000 distributions; last year it made 58,000, he said.
Benavides said people who use the pantry are the elderly and families with children. Camire said many are immigrants.
“Some people who come in are so grateful you can't help but feel sorry for them,” Camire said. “Some go outside and throw it in the garbage because they don't like the food we gave them.”
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Mark Hayward may be reached at email@example.com.
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