By Jessica Easthope
Differences during these divisive times are put aside at St. Thomas Aquinas’ food pantry.
“I think this really helps with working together and bringing the whole community together and this is a small piece of what we can do to support each other as brothers and sisters in Christ,” said Father Dwayne Davis, the pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas in Flatlands, Brooklyn.
Support and food are in no short supply at the pantry. Father Dwayne says months into the pandemic the need is still great.
“We’re at 8,500 people who have been served at the pantry, this is our eighth week and I think this week that number will probably get closer to 9,000,” said Father Dwayne.
The pantry is a product of what can be accomplished when the community comes together.
“Right now, it’s really a community affair, we have the Jewish Center that does not want to be named that gives us the food and volunteers who come from all over to help us,” said Father Dwayne.
Ron Russo, a trustee at St. Thomas Aquinas, pays for the lunch for the pantry’s cache of volunteers – showing how strong the chain of community service can be when everyone plays a part.
“What’s more basic than feeding the hungry? You don’t need to be Catholic to volunteer, you don’t need to be Catholic to get a meal, the whole point of this is different communities joining together to help the people who need the help,” said Russo.
The pantry is one of the many ways the church has been a beacon of hope during both the coronavirus pandemic and a time of national unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Parishioner and volunteer Jean Odenate says, this work is at the core of community outreach.
“They’re all in line talking to each other, they’re not worrying about color,” Odenate said. “They’re here as a community, talking and enjoying the fact that they can come here and get food to feed their family.”