By CATHERINE POIRIER

Volunteers and members at Bread of Life kicked off their Thanksgiving celebrations by giving back to others. For the 20th consecutive year in a row, the organization hosted a Thanksgiving dinner.

Bread of Life is a non-profit organization made up of hard working volunteers who are dedicated to helping those in need and has been around for over 35 years. Among the many helpful and enthusiastic volunteers in attendance was Bread of Life Board President and Mayor of Malden, Gary Christenson. Christenson has been president of the organization since 2008, and a volunteer long before then. He believes that the non-profit “represents the true meaning of life and that is to help people during their time of need,” and Bread of the Life certainly does that, with over 900 meals prepared this Thanksgiving alone.

Bread of Life not only supplied sit-down dinners at MHS, but made and delivered to-go meals for the elderly. The breakdown of these 900 meals served is about as follows: 300 for senior delivery, 200 for homeless family delivery, and 400 for sit-down dinner. Bread of Life Special Projects Coordinator, Gabriella Snyder Stelmack said “dozens of the members of the Knights of Columbus, Immaculate Conception Council 13966, coordinated by Gene Pinkham, delivered [senior citizens’] meals personally to each household.” Meals to homeless families were served to “3 local motels in Malden, Melrose and Saugus. The Knights of Columbus raised the money to buy the food for these meals, prepared all the food, and took it to the motels to serve it directly,” added Snyder Stelmack.

These preparations came long before turkey day, however. Starting on Nov. 21, 2012 from 4-7 PM, food and hall prep took place. During this time, people from all around the community dropped off and donated hundreds of pounds of delicious turkey, and some even stayed to help carve their donations. A detailed list on the cork board in Café DiSano (Café A) had a plan mapped out for volunteers. In order to successfully pull off this night, turkeys, utensils, desserts, decorations, coffee, dinners, etc. needed to be wrapped, bagged, carved, and deboned all before the big day rolled around. Snyder Stelmack added “ In addition to Bread of Life and Malden High School, the meal was made possible by donations from Anthony's of Malden, Forestdale Community Church, Salemwood School staff, Marty's Catering of Stoneham, the Malden Mayor's Office, the Malden Lions Club, Hoff's Bakery in Medford and Italimports in Malden.”

Events like those Bread of Life put on are becoming more and more integral to cities like Malden. With economic stability so out of reach for some, dinners like this are sometimes the only guarantees of people finding a meal. Mayor Christenson believes that due to the “uncertainty surrounding the economy,” Bread of life “will grow.” If numbers continue to grow, more and more volunteers are going to be needed to support non-profits, and giving back – like volunteering, or attending a fundraiser to support local organizations – is what communities need most.

Keeping in mind the future of Malden, and those served by Bread of Life, the organization is looking forward to their own future. This past year, the group moved from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, to a new location on 54 Eastern Avenue Rear. Mayor Christenson added that he will be working with them “on their long-range goals such as securing a permanent home for them.” Snyder Stelmack commented that the new location has caused “more efficient operations,” with an “expanded food pantry and office space.”

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