Special Easter dinner for needy planned by mission

NASHUA – For each of the past 19 years, the Tolles Street Mission has sponsored an Easter celebration.

This year for the celebration, 350 children attended the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua last weekend.

But for the first time this year, the mission is sponsoring an Easter dinner to feed the many hungry people whom volunteers see each week.

“Every year, our food pantry lines get longer and longer. With the way things are with the economy, people need food now,” Sister Janis Jefferson said.

The dinner will begin Sunday with an Easter service at 11 a.m. and food will be served from about 12:30-2 p.m., said the Rev. David B. Smith.

The menu will include ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, rice, cranberries and more. “We’re going to have the whole nine yards,” Smith said.

Weather permitting, food will be served outside in a nearby parking lot at the intersection of Tolles and Whitney streets. If the weather is bad, the dinner will be served inside the mission, at 52 Whitney St.

The mission also operates a clothes closet and food pantry. Serving the poor is the legacy of the late Pastor Peggy Smith, who started the tradition more than 20 years ago in the French Hill neighborhood that is one of the city’s most impoverished.

“Since my mother passed away a year and a half ago, a lot of people don’t know that we’re still here,” said David Smith, who is now co-pastor of the Tolles Street Mission.

Smith promised his mother on her deathbed in 2007 that he and his wife would continue her work.

“It’s a promise that I’m going to make good on,” he said.

Food is distributed on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1:30-3 p.m. at the mission. Also, with spring arriving, vegetables are given out Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m.-noon, Jefferson said.

About 100 or more people are expected for the Easter dinner, Smith said.

“If this works out, we’ll do it again next year,” he said.

“The day is a really special day,” Smith said of Christianity’s holiest day of the calendar. “We know a lot of people will be hungry on Sunday,” Smith said.

The purpose of the dinner, he added, “really is to show God’s love.”