By Ginger DeShaney
Like a good neighbor, Hilco Redevelopment Partners is there.
HRP, the owner and developer of 776 Summer St., a 1.68-million-square-foot redevelopment of the former Edison Power Plant, donated 1,000 turkeys to South Boston families in need, working in collaboration with South Boston Association of Non-Profits (SBANP) to distribute them.
“We know that the pandemic hit families really hard,” said Jasmine Sessoms, senior vice president of corporate affairs for HRP. “We don’t want to just build in neighborhoods, we want to be good neighbors. This is our way of demonstrating that we want to be a part of the community here. Tell us what you need; we want to help out.”
Jasmine said her company has donated 4,000 turkeys this year: 1,000 in each of its project cities: Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Richmond, CA.
Last Friday, the turkeys were unloaded from trucks in the parking lot at the Ollie’s H Street location. Nonprofit organizations that requested turkeys picked them up in the morning; individuals stopped by for theirs in the afternoon.
“Seven hundred of the turkeys are being given to organizations to give out to their families,” said Kathy Lafferty, co-president of SBANP. “Another 300 are being given to individuals who signed up on their own.”
“We’re trying to fill a need, but there’s so much more need and we want to continue to do good things in the community,” said Jasmine, who, in the midst of a turkey shortage, found a local women-owned food purveyor — Dole & Bailey — to provide the organic turkeys.
The need is real in South Boston. Interested nonprofits and individuals signed up for turkeys via a link. More than 1,000 requests came in very quickly, necessitating the creation of a wait list.
“People hear that condos sell for $2 million and that there’s all these new bistros and great restaurants in South Boston, but what they forget is that we have three low-income housing developments and people in this community who are living in deep poverty,” Kathy said. ”And COVID certainly put a light on that a little bit, but people still don’t understand that families go without all the time.”
Added Anna White, co-president of SBANP, “Hundreds of families access Fourth Presbyterian’s food bank and St. Monica’s food pantry every week. Hundreds of families.”
Melissa Schrock, senior vice president of mixed-use development for HRP, said the company has three pillars of sustainability: for the environment; for the local economy; and for the community.
HRP does a lot of philanthropic work year-round, Melissa said, but it’s especially important around the holidays to reach out and help.
For Christine Keller, director of the food pantry at Fourth Presbyterian Church, “This has been a real lifesaver for us.
“For some reason, our number did not come up this year with the Greater Boston Food Bank for our turkeys.”
Christine received 160 turkeys from HRP.
Other local nonprofits getting turkeys included: Julie’s Family Learning Center, Beacon Properties, the Tierney Center, Head Start, South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation, the Youth Ambassadors, West Broadway Task Force, and more.
The seamless distribution Friday could not have happened without amazing volunteers, said Anna.
David DeCourcey, program director at Devine Recovery Center, had a crew from the Gavin Foundation and Devine.
“They like giving back,” David said, noting these volunteers help out wherever they can, such as the South Boston Street Festival, road races, and the St. Monica’s and Fourth Presbyterians food pantries.
“It gives them purpose,” he said. “It brings joy to someone else.”
Including 1,000 South Boston families.