Food bank volunteer takes time to say thank you

Naugatuck Ecumenical Food Bank volunteer Irene Lawlor, right, reacts after food bank President Marty Lee Fenton, left, and other volunteers sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her Oct. 29 at the food bank in Naugatuck. Lawlor, who celebrated her 97th birthday Oct. 22, has volunteered at the food bank for years and writes personalized thank you letters to donors. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — Irene Lawlor knows everyone likes to receive a “thank you,” so she makes sure every person and organization that donates money to the Naugatuck Ecumenical Food Bank gets one.

“It takes two minutes to say ‘thank you,’” said Lawlor, who turned 97 years old Oct. 22. “People appreciate that.”

Lawlor, who started volunteering with the food bank in the early 1990s, has written thousands of thank you letters over the years. Sheila Baummer, treasurer of the food bank, gives her each contribution receipt, and Lawlor then sends every donor a personalized thank you letter.

“I can’t thank them enough for all their donations,” she said. “It means so much for the food bank.”

Marty Lee Fenton, president of the food bank, said Lawlor has been an invaluable volunteer for the food bank. Fenton and other volunteers recognized Lawlor for her efforts with a birthday cake — albeit a week after her birthday — Oct. 29 at the food bank.

Although she took center stage for part of the afternoon, Lawlor emphasized the work all the volunteers do. She said most people don’t realize the amount of volunteer work that goes into distributing food twice a week to people.

“The distribution of the food on Tuesdays and Fridays depends so much on the work of all the other people that are doing that (volunteer) work,” she said.

Over the years, the number of people in need of the food bank’s services has grown, Fenton said. With the holiday season approaching, the food bank is need itself of donations.

Donations of non-perishable food and other household items, like paper towels and hygiene products, can be dropped off at the food bank, 75 Spring St. The food bank is open on Tuesdays from 2 to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. People can call 203-723-1922 to set up a time to drop off donations, as well.

People can also mail checks made out the Ecumenical Food Bank to Ecumenical Food Bank, P.O. Box 796, Naugatuck, CT 06770.