2020 was a challenging year, to say the least; however, it has been heartening to know that Bedford residents and community organizations have stepped in to help during this difficult time.
The Bedford Food Bank has been in operation every week since March and supported by town staff and the volunteers of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Initially, The Food Bank was established with collaboration between Bedford Health and Human Services, Bedford Fire Department, and Bedford Public Schools, specifically the Food Services Program. There have been many generous donors and organizations that helped get the Bedford Food Bank set up, ready to meet the increasing food insecurity in the community. Greater Boston Food Bank has been supplying the majority of the food to the Food Bank with supplemental offerings purchased with the Bedford Emergency Relief Fund. Gaining Ground in Concord supplied the Food Bank with farm-fresh produce all summer long and into the fall. FoodLink has provided bread as well as produce during the winter months. Chip-In Farm has begun a campaign allowing customers to donate a dozen eggs which augments the Food Bank supply. Volunteers from the CERT team, Hanscom Air Force Base, EDCO, and Bedford High School have assisted with packing bags, prepping for home deliveries, and unloading GBFB deliveries. Additionally, the Acton Community Supper and Food Pantry has provided vital guidance and logistical support and the Bedford Food Pantry has provided financial and administrative support.
Several organizations have made and/or donated face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. These organizations include the Coalition Mask Network, the Neighbor Brigade, the First Face Mask Ministry, the Bedford VA, and Blue Fuji Restaurant, Cradles to Crayons, and a number of Bedford Residents taking the time to make homemade masks. These organizations have been vital in supplying face masks to students, veterans, families, and elders.
Healthy and Happy Gift Bags were distributed to seniors to help cope with isolation while the COA has remained closed to the public. The gift bags included items such as letters from Bedford High School Students, snacks, chocolate, therabands, masks, pens, activity books, fidget spinners, and hand sanitizer. Donors who provided the items included the Bedford Council on Aging, Orthopaedics Plus, Grow a Strong Family and Assisting Hands.
The Bedford Food Bank was able to supply families in need with a Thanksgiving Meal this year. MilliporeSigma provided funds to cover the cost of purchasing 84 Turkeys and also individual meals for residents. Barrett Sotheby donated pumpkin pie, dinner rolls, apple cider, and CVS gift cards. The Town of Bedford partnered again this year with Project Ezrah which includes volunteers from Temple Isaiah in Lexington and Temple Shir Tikvah in Winchester who cooked and delivered a hot holiday meal to 60 households on Christmas Eve. The Bedford Rotary Club has also made a generous donation of local restaurant gift cards to help support local business and fight hunger in the community.
Several organizations have been working hard to ensure that Bedford children are able to obtain holiday gifts this year. Beacon Santa was able to distribute Target Gift cards to families. The Bedford Fire Department collected gifts for their annual Toy Drive. Bedford Santa gave an incredibly generous $5,000 donation in gift cards to Youth and Family Services Holiday Gift Card Program to distribute to identified families. Additionally, Brookline Bank, the Bedford Rotary, and Hanscom Federal Credit Union all made generous donations. Ann Guay and Ann Marie Bernardon also organized a gift card drive that raised $2,000, all from generous Bedford residents looking to help out their fellow neighbors. Thanks to all the donations, families and close to 100 children had gifts to open this past holiday season.
During the winter months, there have been several organizations helping to keep residents stay dressed for the cold. Neighbor Brigade has been actively collecting winter coats for children and adults in need. In October, Cradles to Crayons was able to supply over 40 winter coats for children aged 0-12. The Cultural Council has taken on a project to supply residents with winter hats and scarves which the Food Bank distributes in their weekly bags.
Residents and Community Organizations have been crucial this year to ensure that Bedford’s most vulnerable residents have been supported during this pandemic. We can’t close out this thank you without acknowledging the contributions, large and small, from numerous Bedford residents to the Bedford Emergency Relief Fund and purchases made from the Town of Bedford Personal Items Wish List on Amazon. A heartfelt thank you to all the organizations and individuals who have supported these efforts. The residents we have helped this year are so grateful for the assistance provided. The Health and Human Services team is happy to be the conduit to help ease some of our residents’ worries and meet some of their basic needs.