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Portsmouth emergency food drive gets some help on wheels

Watchkeepers motorcycle club arrives with donations

By Jim McGaw
Posted 8/9/20

PORTSMOUTH — A group of do-gooders revved into the parking lot of St. John’s Lodge No. 1 on Sprague Street late Sunday morning, bearing donations of food for the local area’s …

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Please support local news coverage –

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Portsmouth emergency food drive gets some help on wheels

Watchkeepers motorcycle club arrives with donations

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — A group of do-gooders revved into the parking lot of St. John’s Lodge No. 1 on Sprague Street late Sunday morning, bearing donations of food for the local area’s needy families.

“We’re a local, law enforcement motorcycle club that just tries to help out around the community as best we can,” said Evan Luther, a member of Watchkeepers Rhode Island, after he finished unloading the donations into two shopping carts.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, the masonic lodge, where the Portsmouth Emergency Food Bank is now located, hosted a food drive to replenish its supply of nonperishables and produce that will be distributed to families that have been experiencing a food shortage during the pandemic.

The Watchkeepers club, which has 16 members, started up about four years ago.

“It was essentially to replace the camaraderie that we had felt,” said Wilson Luther, Evan’s older brother. “A bunch of us are former service soldiers, Coast Guard — stuff like that. We’re just filling that void when you leave service — that close, tight-knit brotherhood.”

How it works

The Portsmouth Emergency Food Bank started at St. Barnabas Church before moving to St. John’s on July 29. It’s regular hours for both distribution and collection are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

To contact the food bank, call 401/643-0323 or e-mail stjohns1foodbank@gmail.com. Leave a message if you have a question or a special request, need other assistance or if someone other than yourself needs to pick up food. The food bank will return your call within 24 hours. 

To get food: Enter the marked food lane at the food bank, and a volunteer will come out to assist you. Do not park or get out of your vehicle. The food bank can provide food for only one family per vehicle without prior arrangements. You may be asked for some type of identification, but the food bank is available to all in need and not restricted to Portsmouth residents.

To donate food: Non-perishable, non-expired food items can be dropped off anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Bring your donation to the lodge parking lot and a volunteer will meet your at your vehicle.

Among the items needed are: cereal, pancake mix, syrup, mac and cheese, peanut butter, jelly, powdered milk, baked beans, canned fruit, pasta sauce, canned pasta, canned vegetables, canned tuna or chicken, crackers, Minute Rice packages, canned soups, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or similar items.

Gift cards to area markets are also accepted and used primarily to purchase needed items for the food bank supply. They will be selectively distributed and not included in food bank packages.

To make a monetary donation: Make checks payable to the Town of Portsmouth and note “Food Bank” on the check. You can either hand-deliver to the food bank or mail to Portsmouth Community Food Bank, Portsmouth Town Hall, 2200 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI 02871. 

For more information, visit www.portsmouthri.com, or contact Rich Talipsky at 401/643-0382 or RTalipsky@Portsmouthri.com.

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