October 1978 – Ginny White launched Ginny’s Helping Hand(s) on Lancaster Street in Leominster in order to provide clothes, shoes, and other necessities to people in need. Ginny liked to say that the organization was for people who want “a hand up, not a hand out.” That mantra continues to this day.
1980 – Ginny White began the Food Pantry at Ginny’s serving nine to eleven families, daily. As the need grew, Ginny expanded the pantry to provide meals and groceries to people of all ages and backgrounds, who were having trouble making ends meet.
1985 – With the help of a growing cadre of volunteers, Ginny White moved the growing organization to a much larger facility where it remains to this day. The extra space allowed her to open a two-floor Thrift Store to generate revenue that would: a) support the Food Pantry; and b) provide highly-affordable necessities for the community.
September 2013 – Ginny White retired to the warmer climes of South Carolina. Having been Core Volunteers at Ginny’s Helping Hand for decades, and seeing the growing need for its services, the husband-wife team of Sue Chalifoux Zephir and Ed Zephir took on responsibility for the organization to continue the important work Ginny White had begun 35 years earlier. New Executive Director Sue Chalifoux Zephir continued the Food Pantry and Thrift Store at Ginny’s and expanded its work with partners with other community organizations and departments to provide funds for temporary shelter, fuel assistance, and free furniture, housewares, clothing, and toiletries to survivors of fires, floods, domestic violence, and other crises. Ginny’s began providing Holiday Food Baskets every November and December, along with Christmas gifts for children in need.
March 2020 – When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Food Pantry at Ginny’s Helping Hand (an essential service provider) devised a new contactless system to provide much needed groceries five days a week, while keeping staff, volunteers, and clients safe and healthy.
During this time, the Thrift Store closed which meant a loss of revenue for the organization, as well as one less highly-affordable shopping option for the region.
August 2020 to April 2021 – Ginny’s Thrift Store hosted 14 outdoor, pop-up sales to address customers’ needs for affordable clothing, shoes, and furniture.
May 2021 – Ginny’s Thrift Store reopened full-time, with one floor dedicated to clothes, shoes, accessories, bedding, towels, and curtains. Without the downstairs space, Ginny’s stopped selling (and accepting donations of) furniture, books, and most housewares.
April 2022 – Sue Chalifoux Zephir stepped away from the day to day management as Brandon Robbins became the new Executive Director. He had previously been the Manager at Ginny’s from 2017 to 2020. Currently, the Food Pantry at Ginny’s Helping Hand provides groceries to more than 1,500 people every month.