MANNA volunteers bring Thanksgiving to go

  • Volunteers Jim Robator and Peter Mitchell pick up food at the MANNA Soup Kitchen Thursday before delivering the meals to people throughout the Pioneer Valley. Emily Cutts

Published: 11/23/2017 7:28:03 PM

NORTHAMPTON — For some, the knock on their door Thursday wasn’t family coming to celebrate Thanksgiving. Instead, it was a stranger delivering a hot meal from MANNA Soup Kitchen.

In all, 204 had called ahead to have meals delivered to their homes by volunteers, according to Kim Carlino, a member of organization’s Board of Directors. Residents of Hatfield, Granby, Northampton and West Springfield lined the hall in the basement of Edwards Church waiting to pick up meals for those who were unable to attend the community meal later that day.

At the front of the line were Williamsburg residents Jim Robator and Peter Mitchell. The two said they didn’t intend to be first, but a mix-up in times had them at the head of the line.

When Robator started volunteering for the Thanksgiving meal delivery, he said he was at a point in his life when he wasn’t interested in celebrating holidays and needed a way to step outside his own struggles.

“It’s really nice to be able to do something for someone else,” he said.

Mitchell said he too had a time in his life when things were not going well, and now that his life has turned around, he thought working with MANNA was a good way to show his gratitude.

Both said they make helping out on Christmas part of their holiday plans as well, but note that there are people who are helping out every day.

Sitting in chairs waiting for meals, Shellie Sullivan and her son were delivering meals for the first time.

“I think it’s a good thing to do to help people,” Sullivan said.

She heard of the meal delivers from friend Leigh Paz. Paz, of West Springfield, said this has been a Thanksgiving tradition for him and his son for 14 or 15 years. It began when his son was young as a way to instill positive things in his life, Paz said.

“It’s like the true meaning of Thanksgiving,” Paz said, “helping people out who are less fortunate than us.”

Emily Cutts can be reached at

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