Walter Bradley and Ashley Stump both held back tears Friday, but they were tears of joy and relief.
Bradley lost his job in 2008. His struggles to make ends meet became even more severe after he took in his 2-year-old grandson, Levi, to give him a better home. He wasn’t getting any help from any agencies.
For Stump, getting her 6-year-old son Nicholas to and from his leukemia treatment in Springfield is as expensive as it is emotionally taxing.
But on Friday, they each received a hearty Thanksgiving meal at a time when affording one was almost an intangible idea, courtesy of The Berkshire Eagle and a handful of local organizations.
Through Jan. 15, a Thanksgiving meal will be donated for every new subscription to an Eagle electronic edition (the virtual replica of the newspaper online) or by adding e-edition to an existing subscription, signing up for EZ Pay or Pre Pay for a year. It’s part of The Eagle’s "Feed Your Mind, Feed a Family" initiative.
"I’ll now have a dinner at home instead of having to worry," Stump said.
The meals include all the holiday fixings: A 12-pound turkey; two cans of corn; a box of stuffing; a hefty bag of potatoes; a can of cranberry sauce; a 12-pack of rolls; and a liter of soda to help wash it all down.
The Eagle bought all the food from Stop & Shop on Dan Fox Drive in Pittsfield. On Friday, there were 40 meals donated to local families.
"That’s enough to feed anywhere between 320 to 400 people," said Warren C. Dews Jr., the vice president for circulation of New England Newspapers Inc., which is comprised of The Eagle and several other newspapers.
"I need to grow readership, but I could have done it any other way," Dews said. "As a newspaper, we’re a mirror of the community we serve."
The meals are purchased out of The Eagle’s budget from the Stop & Shop on Dan Fox Drive in Pittsfield. The foods are disseminated evenly through four local organizations: Kidzone, The Christian Center, The Salvation Army and Lenox Food Pantry.
They will hand them out to those deemed in need. Dews said he chose them for their good rapport with both him and the community at large.
Both Stump and Bradley received their donations from Kidzone. They both take advantage of the Pittsfield business’ child care and education programs.
"It’s a true testament to Kidzone and the attentiveness of their staff," Bradley said. "I’m very thankful."
With so many programs donating foods for Thanks giving, The Salvation Army will mostly focus on donating their portions to families closer to Christmas, according to Major James Fletcher.
For The Christian Center, 193 Robbins Ave., the meals will go into a bigger pot luck of donations that they will be able to pick up at their food pantry Monday, and it "uplifts the community," according to Ellen Merritt, the executive director.
"Thanksgiving is a time for people to come together," she said. "We want to afford that to everyone. When people like The Berkshire Eagle call, it allows us to extend how much we can give out."
After a quick photo and meet-and-greet at the Stop & Shop, Dews joined Cindy Nasman, the coordinator of the Lenox Ecumenical Food Pantry, to drop off some boxes of food to people that had signed up for them.
"When they get their boxes, they’re a little speechless," Nasman said.
To reach Adam Poulisse:
or (413) 496-6214.
On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse.