Hundreds of food baskets head from Rivier University to Nashua's less fortunateBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent November 22. 2017 12:59AM
NASHUA — As families prepare to feast on Thanksgiving Day, there is no better time to recognize those in the Greater Nashua area who may not have as much to be thankful for, said Sister Paula Marie Buley.
Buley, president of Rivier University, gathered her school’s staff and students for a Thanksgiving prayer service on Tuesday — the culmination of a lengthy food drive intended to help those less fortunate in the region.
“Because the unemployment rate is so low, it is easy to overlook that there are still elderly, sick and new Americans who can fall below the safety net,” said Buley.
Hundreds of turkeys, rolls, canned goods and boxes of mashed potatoes and stuffing were collected throughout the past several weeks as part of the university’s annual Thanksgiving drive.
On Tuesday, participants gathered for an early Thanksgiving luncheon after transporting about 460 Thanksgiving baskets filled with all of the necessities for a hearty meal. The food was packed into vehicles heading to 13 nonprofit groups.
One of those groups is the Corpus Christi Food Pantry in Nashua, which will now distribute the meals to local families who need the assistance.
“This time of year everyone thinks of us,” said Susan Dignan, food pantry director of the organization. “We are truly blessed to be able to help so many people. It touches my heart.”
Dignan added that the nonprofit “relies on these donations. We need this type of support from the community to fulfill our mission.”
Sunset Heights Elementary School also assisted with the food drive, which it has been doing for the past 29 years, according to organizers.
Kurt Stimeling, vice president of student affairs at Rivier University, said Sunset Heights brought a pickup truck filled with food donations on Tuesday morning. He thanked the elementary students for making the food drive a priority.
Kristin Nelson, director of Rivier’s campus ministry, said that “this event is more than turkey dinners — it’s a genuine example of loving thy neighbor, of action over self-interest. This is Rivier’s mission — transforming hearts and minds to serve the world. Our students thrive when they see the positive impact they can have in the lives of others.”
A total of 152 turkeys and $1,550 in supermarket gift cards — in addition to the food baskets — were also distributed to the nonprofit organizations to be given to local families.
“This is one of our longest standing traditions,” Buley said of the food drive, stressing the importance of giving thanks to God and extending help to community partners and neighbors who may need a helping hand.
Aside from Corpus Christi, the other agencies benefiting from the food drive include Anne-Marie House, The CareGivers Inc., Greater Nashua Mental Health Center at Community Council, Healthy at Home, HIV/AIDS Task Force, Keystone Hall, Foundation Hematology/Oncology, Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter, Catholic Charities New Hampshire, The Salvation Army, Title I, and Community Outreach Resource and Education Center in Nashua.