Al’s Pals Mobile Food Pantry was at Manatee Middle School on Thursday before Christmas delivering its cargo of groceries to families at the East Naples location. For this holiday visit, 300+ families visited the mobile food pantry.
The “Al” refers to Allyson Richards who has made it her mission in life to deliver food and many essentials to all people in need on Marco Island and its nearby communities. On some Friday afternoons, you may also encounter Al’s Pal’s trailer at the St. Mark’s parking lot in Marco Island.
Marie Senechal was a new addition to Al’s Pal’s group during this visit. Marie is lovingly called Marco’s “Quilt Lady.” She spent the last week making sure she had enough quilts for her trip to Manatee Middle School, finishing her last one just hours before she left for the school.
As a special treat for the children and families at Manatee Middle School, Marie Senechal, had six bags full of her handmade quilted blankets. It was a chilly day and Marie felt her blankets would provide someone comfort and joy for the holidays.
The team arrived at the parking lot and volunteers got busy setting up tables next to the trailer. Already, there was a small group waiting for their arrival and Richards and her friendly volunteers welcomed everyone like members of their own family.
Marie had a table set up with all of her hand-made quilted blankets—some with Christmas themes like Santa and snowmen; her blankets are bright and vibrant. A single blanket can transform a room with her colors.
Marie “reuse, reduce and recycle” using donated cloth scraps from her friends. She works on the quilts every day creating something unique and special. The families at the Manatee Middle School parking lot were drawn to her table of colorful creations.
Picking one was not an easy decision. For a girl, the adults looked for something with pink, and for boys, they look for a quilt with animals or toys in the pattern. When a child is bored, a quilt with lots of animals and patterns can tell a beautiful story. Marie tells her story through her quilts—some squares are bright with patterns and filled with characters. The colors are joined together painting a picture with the interpretation left to a child’s imagination.
A quilted blanket can be someone’s best friend on a cold and chilly night.
For most of the children at the Manatee School, it was their first-ever quilted blanket. Marie made these quilts with a lot of love and there were joy and twinkle of gratitude from each recipient knowing they are receiving much love in a quilted blanket.
Look for the mobile food pantries on Friday afternoons in Marco Island and East Naples (Manatee). The Food Pantry is supported by local churches and other civic organizations. People who live and work in Marco, Goodland and East Naples and surrounding areas are welcome.