Deb Lockett of the Belmont Religious Council was calculating all the numbers involved with the Fourth Annual Belmont Serves on Monday, Oct. 8: 450 participants, dozens and dozens of pizzas, hundreds of winter coats in 40 commercial-sized plastic bags, 16 quilts/blankets and more than 2,000 grocery bags of food and personal items left at the step of the Belmont Food Pantry.
Yes, thought Lockett out loud, this constitutes the best day of service in the recent history of the event that promotes volunteerism across Belmont's religious communities and the town.
"Incredible, an outstanding success," said Lockett – who is a member of the First Church Unitarian Universalist, one of 14 religious congregations that belong to the Council – at the end of the four hours most volunteers, ranging from kindergartners to great grandparents, took part.
"It's good that we can all band together and a great way for children to get involved volunteering. Now they can point to something they did and feel good about," said Lockett at St. Joesph's Parish where Belmont Serves was headquartered.
The day's activities include several which are on the agenda each year; clearing the Lone Tree Hill and Rock Meadow recreation lands, painting fences on the Grove Street Playground, cleaning around Clay Pit Pond – which this year including one brave participate to climbed high into the trees to take down bittersweet vines that were chocking the trees – and planting around the traffic islands and the Belmont Public Library.
New this year was racking and painting benches around the Burbank Elementary School.
In addition to outside activities, participants made 16 blankets and quilts for a women's shelter in Boston.
The two numbers that caught the attention of Lockett and others was the number of food bags that came to the Pantry's new home behind Belmont High School.
The 2,000-plus bags is nearly 500 to 600 more bags than last year's total of 1,482.
This year, Denise Kelly – who headed the Pantry's effort – printed up business cards to leave at the 2,200 doorstep locations that left filled-grocery bags to be picked up by dozens of volunteers combing the town. She praised the people who took time during the week to place nearly 8,500 bags on stoops and inside screen doors around town.
The work of volunteers and residents will allow the pantry to have food and household items for all its visitors through the fall and into the winter after going through a lean summer.
"This day is a testimony of what can be done when we all work together," said Lockett, the Council's secretary.