Harvest on Vine, Volunteers Serve Nearly 700 Families for Thanksgiving

By Seth Daniel

Pilgrim Pricilla Alden (also known as Judy Burton) took a break from working at the Harvest on Vine Thanksgiving distribution on Tuesday afternoon. Meanwhile, Jim O’Brien mans the onion patch as needy families come through to pick up their Thanksgiving fixins. A total of 695 families were served at the annual distribution Tuesday, a number that organizer Tom MacDonald said keeps growing as needs magnify in the Town.

It was like a well-oiled machine on Tuesday afternoon as volunteers and coordinators for the Harvest on Vine Food Pantry provided all the ingredients for 695 families to have Thanksgiving dinner.

Around 1 p.m. the line of about 500 families – all from Charlestown – began to form around the distribution center off of Vine Street. By 2 p.m., a flurry of carrots, pies, turkeys and cranberries began to be distributed to the residents by nearly 70 volunteers.

“Today we have 695 families signed up for Thanksgiving baskets and that includes the deliveries we make to those who can’t get our or are handicapped,” said Tom MacDonald, director of Harvest on Vine. “This year we have nearly 700 families. It’s poverty. All our families are living below the poverty line here and struggle each  month to get by. We hope our usual distributions, and this special one on Thanksgiving, helps them a little. All of the families are from Charlestown and most of the volunteers are too. We are very, very grateful for the support we get.”

Meanwhile, roaming around dressed as Phyllis Alden – the wife of Pilgrim John Alden from the old, old days – was Judy Burton, a fixture of the Harvest on Vine all year round.

“It’s a very fulfilling ministry I want to say,” she said. “You are helping people that really need help in the community. You get to meet new people and talk to them and learn about your neighbors in the Town. It has absolutely grown. When we first started, when Tom came 14 years ago, we were in the basement of the church. It’s become an amazing thing and very well organized. There’s always enough for everyone.”

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