Area Organizations, Events In Need Of Donations, Volunteers For Holiday Season

Area organizations are gearing up for the holidays, hoping to help those in need of support for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Stocking the shelves, such as these at St. Susan’s Center, and having enough volunteer manpower is important for what can be a busy time. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

What are generally seen as joyful occasions can turn bleak if there’s nothing in the pantry for Thanksgiving and even less for Christmas morning. However, local organizations across the county are gearing up for the “Season of Giving” to provide help for those in need and provide holiday fixings so everyone can share in the joy this season.


The Salvation Army of Jamestown and Dunkirk are looking for bell-ringing volunteers for the annual Red Kettle Campaign. According to Major John Merchant, the organization had to hire bell ringers this year because of the shortage.

The organization is also giving away Christmas baskets and are in need of nonperishable food and turkey donations, Merchant said. He said a food or turkey drive would be helpful for the season.

Merchant said the Angel Tree Program, which places a Christmas tree display in local stores and other locations throughout the county, will begin this Friday. There are many locations to get a tag throughout the area, including local Wal-Marts. Merchant encouraged the community to call either the Dunkirk or Jamestown Salvation Army branches for more information on tree locations. The tag, which lists three gifts per child in need, can be returned with one or two of the gifts, Merchant said, and the Salvation Army will send the tag back with the remaining gifts listed.

Distribution for the food and presents for Christmas will be on December 19-20. Merchant said the organization doesn’t do a Thanksgiving giveaway per se because many area organizations already fill that need.

However, if someone is in need of help with Thanksgiving, the Salvation Army will do what they can to help. Merchant said the organization is in need of volunteers to help prepare for distribution day on Dec. 18 and also to help distribute.

For more information on either organization, call 366-3701 for Dunkirk or 664-4108 for Jamestown.


St. Susan Center Executive Director Jeff Smith said a hot meal will be served for those in need on Thanksgiving Day from 12:30-2 p.m. at the center.

“It’s a special time of year, and everyone deserves to have a nice meal at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Smith said. “It’s a tough time for people, and we’re just glad we can help.”

However, the need isn’t just centered on special occasions, he said. Generally, 300 to 350 meals are served a day, but when the beginning of November hit, it increased to 400 or 450 a day. Smith said it could be due to the colder weather.

The center also takes donations of food, juice, milk, products like plastic spoons and utensils, paper towels and other goods as well as hats, winter glovers and heavy socks. The center will also accept financial donations or gift cards, and is always in need of volunteers to help out.

Smith said a main fundraiser for the center, the Holiday Haul held by Keith Martin in front of the Jamestown Cycle Shop on Dec. 14-16. Martin, Jamestown Community College athletic director, will host the event with a large box truck he hopes to fill the back of in the three-day stint. He will accept financial donations, food donations and more during the event.

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Justin Lindell, owner of The Q in downtown Jamestown, is getting ready for the ninth year of “Giving Thanks By Giving Back,” a grassroots turkey dinner giveaway provided by The Q, donations and the hardwork of dedicated volunteers. Lindell said the effort is in need of both donations and volunteers.

Lindell said the whole idea began on Thanksgiving when he was alone. He decided to go down to The Q to fix a meal and made a trip to the store to get turkey legs, potatoes and cranberries. As he put the food into the cart, Lindel said he decided to open the restaurant for the day so others could come down for dinner, but decided to do it at no profit to himself.

“I couldn’t charge on Thanksgiving. So I put the post online offering free meals to anyone who wanted to eat with me,” Lindell said.

Lindell said he keeps it going year after year because of all the people who really need it.

“Even if it brightens one person’s day, then all of this planning, meetings and sleepless nights is worth it,” he said.

Financial donations can be made by check and dropped off at The Q at 104 E. Second Street in Jamestown. Lindell said the typical donation is $20. Food donations are taken as well. Volunteers are needed on Tuesday, Nov. 21 to help pack bags and Wednesday, Nov. 22 to deliver full, uncooked meals, as well as on Thanksgiving day to serve meals and deliver prepared meals. A full dinner will also be served at The Q from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at no charge. On Wednesday, volunteers are needed between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to deliver bags and on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 a.m. for a variety of duties.

Lindell said the community can “only become what the people of the community put back into it,” and encouraged community members to spread love in the community.

“Never, ever take your life for granted. You may never know how much you mean to someone else,” he said.

The Ashville Food Pantry located at the Ashville United Methodist Church is also looking for donations, including food, toys for children and financial donations.

Martha Gleason, pantry director, said the pantry is not desperate, but Christmas does come quickly after Thanksgiving. At the moment, the pantry is giving away Thanksgiving Boxes and there will also be extra boxes for Christmas.

“Donations are always welcome,” Gleason said. “You can send funds to Ashville United Methodist Church and mark down that it’s for the food pantry.”

To donate food, she said to call 763-9252 and she will meet with them. The pantry is open on Thursday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The pantry is located at 2180 N. Maple Ave. in Ashville.

Volunteers are also helpful, Gleason said, adding with a laugh that she needs some “men with good backs.”

Supporting and helping those in need is important, Gleason said, especially during the holidays.

“It makes you feel good when you can help somebody, especially if they’re down and out,” she said. “It brings the community together, too. Some people feel funny coming to a pantry, but when they realize it’s not just them, it’s OK. Everybody needs help sometimes.”

Gleason reminded Christmas shoppers to help in another way.

“I always tell people to shop locally,” she said. “It keeps jobs here.”

The Mayville Food Pantry, located at 99 S. Erie St. next to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mayville, is also looking for donations and volunteers. Currently, the pantry uses three volunteers in the the pantry because of the uptick in activity for the holidays, according to Debbie Marsala, pantry manager. Marsala said the thrift store above the pantry also needs volunteers.

The pantry accepts nonperishable goods for donations, but Marsala cautions the public to look at the dates before donating. Likewise, the pantry does take cash donations, donations of paper products like toilet paper, paper towels, hygiene products and more.

“Anything you think you would use, we can give out to our clients,” she said. “If someone wanted to do a (paper product or hygiene product) drive, it’d be a great drive to do.”

Marsala said the pantry will be giving away Thanksgiving bags from now until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Marsala said the pantry will be closed the Friday after Thanksgiving.

The pantry is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m, and closes on holidays, for inclement weather and when local schools are closed.

Marsala said remembering those in need this season is important because, as her predecessor once said, “Hunger doesn’t take a holiday.”

“We have a lot of hunger,” she said. “A lot of the working poor – they’re working hard, but don’t make enough. Things get expensive.”

Marsala said it important that the community knows that the pantry is there to help those in need. There are income guidelines in place, however, she said many people would qualify.