Hillside Church takes initiative to help those in need

In November last year, Marie White and a few fellow parishioners at Hillside Community Church gathered to come up with a proactive way to help local residents in need.
“I had an extra bedroom in my house so I figured why not,” said White, who began, along with a few others, Necessities Cupboard, a food pantry program that is all volunteer and donation based.
Nearly five months later White said the donations have been so abundant the food pantry needs to expand into another location, and is seeking approval from city officials to move its operation to 188 West St.
Necessities Cupboard is staffed by church volunteers and has been operating solely on donations for the last five months. White said non-perishables and paper goods are collected and are delivered to between 15 to 18 families on a monthly basis.
“We are filling a need for people who fall short every month,” White said, adding the program is delivery based only, so that it can cater to those without access to a vehicle.
The new location will continue the same way and will only serve as a storage area with shelving for products that can be gathered and delivered to families. White said there will be no foot traffic at the new location, other than the volunteers.
White said the location at 188 West St., is perfect and the landlord has been helpful with accommodating the church’s needs.
The way Necessities Cupboard has worked so far is the families being served are referrals by church members. White will speak with the family about what they need, what their likes and dislikes are, and subsequently make up packages based on those criteria. She said, right now, there is a need for paper goods, feminine products and baby products, especially because many of those items are not covered by government food programs. The food pantry also will accept personal care items, canned and boxed food, coffee, laundry detergent and any other non-perishable items—as well as monetary donations to keep up with the rent of the space
Clients can find more information on the church website (www.hillsidebristol.org) or by calling the church office. Donations also will still be dropped off at Hillside Community Church, which is located at 435 Broad St.
The proposal for this food pantry went before the Zoning Commission recently, and White said the commission is expected to review and discuss the plan at its next meeting. She said she is hoping the pantry will be ready by the summer months.
White said when she and the other individuals started Necessities Cupboard, they didn’t know how successful it would be. But since November, she said the donations have been abundant and have been able to fulfill the need of the clients in need.
“It’s just amazing, especially because this all started because a bunch of women who may have been, or know someone who has been, in the same situation and have it placed in their hearts that they want to help and give back,” White said.
While she doesn’t want to see a need increase in the community, White said she wants her pantry to be able to serve as many people as possible for as long as it is necessary.
“Whatever the need is, we hope we can fulfill it,” she added.
Hillside Community Church Associate Pastor Paul Bianca said he thought Necessities Cupboard was a “great idea” from the beginning and said its mission continues to fulfill the goals of the church.
“One of the goals of Hillside Community Church is to bring God into the community; what better way than to take care of physical needs as well as spiritual ones,” Bianca said, adding that Hillside is always welcoming new parishioners.
For more information on Necessities Cupboard, visit Hillside’s website at www.hillsidebristol.org or call (860)589-7193. If anyone is looking to donate, items can be dropped off at Hillside at 435 Broad St., Bristol.