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March 2024 Helping Neighbors Newsletter

Helping Neighbors March 2024

Starting Our Fifth Year with Thanks to Our Neighbors

On March 10 we celebrated the remarkable milestone of four years since the founding of our mutual aid network, Newton Neighbors Helping Neighbors! 

Over the past four years, our community has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to supporting one another. Whether it’s lending a hand to a neighbor, organizing food drives, or offering a listening ear, the spirit of solidarity and compassion that defines our community has truly made a difference in countless lives. 

Now, as we enter our fifth year, our team is filled with an overwhelming sense of pride and gratitude for each of you and the work we have done together. You are a testament to the strength of our community and the power of collective action. 

As we continue to expand, we are adding new team members. You can find out more about them later in this newsletter–but first, take a moment to read more about all you have done in the last four years!

Image: 4 years graphic

  • 7,598 food pantry deliveries to families

  • Thousands of pounds of food delivered to 2 dozen pantries in 20 months

  • 36 months of coordinating volunteers as founding member of the Newton Community Freedge

  • Coordination of over 9,339 volunteer hours

  • Hundreds of families connected to local organizations and social services

  • Over $42,000 worth of grocery gift cards distributed

  • Over $27,445 raised to send 82 students to summer camp

  • 31 bikes prepared and distributed to local children

  • Dozens of neighbors engaged in pollinator and container garden building for public housing residents

  • Hundreds of backpacks, water bottles, and lunch boxes distributed to local children

  • Thousands of diapers distributed to local families

  • Holiday cheer spread year after year

  • Community of over 7,950 neighbors in Newton and beyond

  • Connections and collaborations with over 50 organizations

  • Over 1,700 bi-monthly newsletter subscribers

  • Six new board members and four new team members

  • Over $25,000 raised through our annual appeal for operating costs

Image: thermometer

Summer Camp Fundraiser: Goal Met and More!

We have exceeded our goal and, thanks to you, have raised $11,000 to send kids to camp this summer! 

It’s not too late to contribute We are still accepting donations through March 31. Every donation will go to sending yet another student to camp. We have close to 40 names on the list right now…can you help us send them all? 

Thank you, generous neighbors!

Image: Raised Hands

Call for Volunteers: Food Pantry Delivery

We are looking for volunteers who can help deliver groceries from our local food pantries to our neighbors who are unable to get to the pantries on their own. 

Our schedule is:

  • Tuesdays from Centre Street Food Pantry. Pickup at 12 or 12:15 before the pantry opens to the public.

  • Wednesdays from Newton Food Pantry. Scheduled pickups between 12:15 - 2:45.

  • The third Friday of the month from Post 440 Mobile Food Bank. Pickup between 9 - 9:15am before they open to the public.  

It usually takes about an hour of your time and makes a big difference to so many in our community! 

Sign up for March here:

Sign up for April here:

Image: Freedge

Call for Volunteers: Freedge 

Every Thursday, Newton Neighbors coordinates donations to the Newton Community Freedge, Newton Food Pantry’s community refrigerator and pantry initiative. Volunteer opportunities throughout the day include picking up donations from business partners and bringing them to the Freedge, shopping for items, and cleaning and maintaining the Freedge. 

Located in the parking lot of Central Cleaners at 420 Watertown Street in Nonantum, the Freedge is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and offers free food and personal-care items to neighbors in need. Please sign up here to help on Thursdays.

Image: Welcome Home Flyer

Welcome Home Drive

Welcome Home blanket/comforter/quilt drive easy drop off! Bring items to the Newton North High School Welcome Home bin on March 14th-25th in the school's Theatre Lobby, located between Walnut Street and Lowell Avenue in Newtonville. See the post for details and more ways to help. Thank you!

Image: Empty Bowls

March 22: Empty Bowls Club Fundraiser for Food PantryFriday, March 25, 5 - 7pmde Witt Hall, Lasell University80 Maple Street Newton, MA 02466

The Empty Bowls Club at Lasell University, which makes art to fight hunger, is hosting their Seventh Annual Empty Bowls Event. All proceeds raised will go to Centre Street Food Pantry in Newton. 

 Dinner of soup and bread is served in one-of-a-kind ceramic bowls that are taken home after. Guests will enjoy live entertainment, including student performers and powerful words from members of our community. There are also many great prizes generously donated by local Newton businesses.

Tickets are $15 (students $5), available at the door or online.

Image: Welcome Home Drive

March 14 - 25: Bedding and Towel DriveWelcome Home bin, Theatre Lobby, Newton North High School

Newton home goods pantry Welcome Home is in urgent need of the following gently used items in good condition, with no rips or stains:

  • Blankets and comforters: all sizes

  • Queen-size sheets

  • Towels

Bring your donations to the Newton North High School Welcome Home bin in the school’s Theatre Lobby, located between Walnut Street and Lowell Avenue in Newtonville. You can also schedule a dropoff at

Image: Clothing Drive

March 25 - April 5: Day Middle School Clothing Drive for ChildrenDay Middle School students are organizing a clothing drive to collect children’s clothing for Cradles to Crayons, a partner organization of Newton Neighbors that fights children’s clothing insecurity. The drive will run March 25 through April 5, with donation boxes at two drop-off locations:

  • West Suburban YMCA lobby, 276 Church Street

  • Temple Emanuel lobby, 385 Ward Street

Please donate gently used clothing for children sizes 0-20 and adult small/medium (in youth cumstances.

The drive organizers at Day Middle School are Newton Ambassadors for Project 351, an organization that gathers eighth graders across Massachusetts to engage in service activities over the course of a year.

Image: Donations

Ongoing: Donation Drive for Homeless FamiliesDropoff at 108 Adams Street, Nonantum

Our Lady Help of Christians Church is providing emergency shelter for 30 homeless families, and Ward 1 City Councilor Maria Greenberg is organizing a donation drive to help them. The families, including legal immigrants awaiting a range of stabilizing assistance, are housed in the Church shelter under United Way’s SafetyNet program. The children range in age from 10 months to eight years. 

The shelter is requesting the following donations:

  • New books for infants and young children

  • Disposable diapers for infants up to five years

  • Disposable wipes

Porch dropoff any time at 108 Adams Street in Nonantum.

United Way’s SafetyNet provides much-needed services to the families as well as full-time, on-premises security. Councilor Greenberg has been working with the Church to identify ways to help the homeless families. She is conducting this donation drive with guidance from Catholic Charities and the on-site program director.

Image: New Board Members

Welcoming 6 New Members to Our Board of Directors

As we continue to grow, we are sharing some BIG news! We recently welcomed six new members to the Newton Neighbors Board of Directors, four new team members and a new Vice President! Read more about our impact and our new team members below!

Following a successful board recruitment effort last fall, we are pleased to announce the addition of six new board members to the Newton Neighbors Board of Directors in 2024:

  • Sandra Fisher has a degree in psychology and has spent her career working in nonprofit leadership positions. She is currently affiliated with the Soar Management Consulting Group, providing pro bono consultation to nonprofits. Sandra is passionate about improving the lives of vulnerable populations

  • Suruchi Kaul is a physician specializing in nephrology. She has lived in Newton for 18 years. She has volunteered with Newton Neighbors since 2020, and has been a co-captain at the Freedge since 2022. In her free time, Suruchi enjoys volunteering at the Auburndale Community Library, going on walks around Newton, and spending time with her family.

  • Jenny Klein-Sosa serves in special education advisory roles at the state and local levels. In leadership positions with Newton nonprofits, she advocates for special education rights and youth socio-emotional and behavioral health. Sandra has two children in Newton Public Schools and works as a special education decision-maker for children in DCF custody.

  • Susan Paley is a lifelong Newton resident who has proudly served as Senior Vice President, Community Relations, of The Village Bank for the past 17 years. She is active on the boards of several local nonprofits and on the advisory council of Newton Food Pantry. Susan and her husband Marty are empty nesters, living in West Newton with their rescue dog, Phineas.

  • Marla Schiff has spent her career working in the healthcare payer and advisory space. She is excited to be serving as Newton Neighbors Treasurer after being a regular Freedge volunteer. She enjoys spending time with her two children, husband, and cockapoo.

  • Graham Voysey joins the board while continuing in his role as a Core Coordinator for Food Deliveries. An engineer by training, Graham works in machine learning and academic research. He lives in West Newton with his wife and son and enjoys all two-wheeled machines, puttering in the garden, and making things with his hands.

Other board members include Jenn Pucci (Board Chair), Lisa Gordon (Vice Chair), Martha Bixby, and Shalini Tendulkar. A huge thank you to our three retiring board members Charlotte Dietz, Ranjani Paradise, and Shreeda Vyas, all of whom have made incredible contributions to Newton Neighbors over the past four years. But they’re not going anywhere–they will remain very much involved in our work going forward.

In our next newsletter, we’ll feature four new core team members and our new Vice President Maria Soriano. Until then, thank you for playing a major role in our success story. Our team is filled with an overwhelming sense of pride and gratitude for each of you and the work we have done together. You are a testament to the strength of our community and the power of collective action!

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