Helping The Community One Gift At A Time – You Can Help, Too!
By Susan Manning
What started as a group of four good friends volunteering at the food pantry in Milford, has turned into an annual toy collection drive.
Santa’s Porch is a local group founded seven years ago by four forever friends to collect new unwrapped toys for local families in need of holiday help.
The project started after the friends saw a need for help at the food pantry in Milford where they were volunteering monthly. The food pantry serves the communities of Hopedale, Milford and Upton but no one is every turned away.
The porch in Hopedale — and yes, it is someone’s actual porch! — is open for no-contact drop off of toys.
Each year, the project has grown and now includes other fundraisers as well as local groups who help with donations and with having a donation box.
In addition to gifts, the group also accepts Venmo donations which are used to go toy shopping at the local Learning Express toys stores in Franklin and Westboro.
“They are always gracious and give us a discount helping us buy more toys,” said LeeAnn DiPietropolo, who, along with Meg Rivett, Tracy Griffin
Johnson and Laurie DiPietropolo Reynolds, started the organization.
The four friends had been volunteering at the food pantry for about 20 years when one year, they noticed the small toy donation room did not have nearly enough toys for the need.
“Every year our friends and community come together to help! We can never thank the nity enough,” said DiPietropolo.
One update to the program this year is the availability of donation boxes.
“We have added more drop box locations to make it as easy as possible for people to donate,” she said.
This year, in addition to the porch, gifts can be dropped off at:
These boxes will be placed at:
Hopedale Community House
Sacred Heart Church
Custom Home Realty Mendon
Salon Bella Vita Milford
Hopedale Memorial School
Main Groomers Medway
Bright Beginnings Center
Hopedale High School
The Coffee Bar Hopedale
Nutriforia Nutrition Milford
Helping organize and pack boxes this year are members of the Hopedale National Honor society, who will help load cars and organize the porch. The Hopedale Junior Girl Scouts helped wrap donation boxes.
Also stepping up to the plate, the Hopedale Brownies will be having a Hot Chocolate Sale to raise money for Santa’s porch.
DiPietropolo also said fundraising was done throughout the fall.
“We will be at the 2022 Hopedale Downtown Stroll all day taking pictures in exchange for donations. We also took Christmas pictures a couple weeks ago as a fundraiser. The truck picture below shows Tracy and I telling the kids how to pose,” she said.
Toys are distributed Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December to families who are clients of the food pantry. Last year, Santa’s Porch helped approximately 500 children.
“We hope to help even more this year,” said DiPietropolo.
She said, “This is the first year we have done an Amazon Wish List of popular items. If people aren’t sure what to get it makes it easy. We have kids of all ages groups. Sometimes the teens are tough so we are always looking for good gifts for them.”
Donations will be accepted until Dec. 23.
To donate, find the address of the porch, or learn more about Santa’s Porch, visit Facebook @santasporch or email [email protected]. Donations can also be dropped off at the Hopedale Community House, 43 Hope St.