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Citizens Inn is doubling down in Peabody

PEABODY — Citizens Inn, a nonprofit organization that provides shelter and food assistance to families in need, invites you to participate in a holiday-donations matching challenge now  through Dec. 31. 

This year, 35 families will spend their Christmas at one of the Citizens Inn’s shelters, which means that 65 kids will wake up in a shelter on Christmas morning. Peabody residents Dan Johnson and Faye Kolhen and the organization’s supporters decided to match every dollar raised by Citizens Inn up to $50,000 to help Citizens Inn provide presents for its clients and finance other needs of the organization.

Ali Haydock, director of development, said the organization would like to give each family a gift card so they can shop for their children’s holiday gifts with independence and dignity. Haven from Hunger, a food pantry and hunger-prevention program at Citizens Inn, will provide guests with nourishing groceries to cook special holiday meals at home, as well as offer an on-site community holiday dinner. 

“There is still a lot of need in the community,” said Haydock, who added that they are seeing a higher demand for assistance at the Haven from Hunger.

In 2019, the nonprofit served 4,000 individual clients at the food pantry, while in 2021 this number has risen to 5,500 clients. One in 20 Peabody and Salem residents accesses Haven from Hunger, Haydock said.

“We are glad we can be a safety net for the community and that we can be here for the people that need us,” Haydock said. 

Haven from Hunger receives more than $2 million worth of in-kind food a year from the Greater Boston Food Bank and “food rescue partners” ― grocery stores, restaurants and other institutions across the North Shore

For this holiday season, Citizens Inn was also able to organize 44 different toy drives. Haydock said that the organization expects to distribute more than 1,000 toys to Peabody families through Haven from Hunger. 

“We are excited that this year for the holidays we can provide those families with toys and just give them a small amount of joy at least during what is a pretty difficult time in their lives,” said Haydock.

Shelter programs receive state grants for the roof above people’s heads, Haydock said, but all the special programs and Haven from Hunger are run solely from philanthropy. Staff, transportation, operation costs, and utilities are paid through donations. 

“We really rely on the generosity of the community and people have really stepped up this holiday season. We have seen a lot of financial donations as well as the toys. It definitely gives hope during this hard time,” said Haydock.

To donate to Citizens Inn, go to citizensinn.org.

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