DERRY — Hunger and hard times don't just happen at the holidays. For those struggling to make ends meet and stay afloat in this tough economy, the gift of food is welcome.
The Upper Room's food pantry received a holiday gift last month in the form of hundreds of food items to stock the shelves.
Tim Barchard's Professional Martial Arts Academy hosted a food drive for the Upper Room at both its Derry and Windham locations, delivering about 600 cans and packages of food.
"We chose to help the Upper Room this year because of the rapid increase in the number of families that go there for assistance," said Laura Barchard of the Professional Martial Arts Academy. "At PMA, we take service very seriously and see it as a way to help our students build character, as well as for all of us to make a difference in the community. Through this food drive for the Upper Room, our Derry and Windham area students had a natural and simple way to give back."
The Upper Room food pantry once only served about a dozen families per week. The numbers have grown to more than 30 families, staff members said, and the need continues to grow.
Donations come from the community all year long, including from Scout troops, church groups, local businesses and other citizens.
"We serve all of Southern New Hampshire," Upper Room's Anita Huse said. "The need is great and people are hungry, and the number of people seeking our help increases each week."
Huse said the large donations from the martial arts students and staff helped fill a food pantry void this holiday season.
The Upper Room's food pantry is open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is open to people in Derry and surrounding towns. In February, the pantry hours will change to Mondays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Upper Room is located at 36 Tsienneto Road in Derry. Call for information at 437-8477.
• • •
Join the discussion. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to derrynews.com.