TORRINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — The Friendly Hands Food Pantry in Torrington was on the verge of closing its doors after nearly 30 years amid a lack of funding. But, following a report by News 8’s LaSalle Blanks on Tuesday they have received “significant donations” – significant enough to remain open.
Friendly Hands told News 8 Wednesday, while the donations will enable them to keep their doors open for the time being, they can definitely use continued support in order to continue to serve the community.
Several hundred families a month rely on them for food, clothes, and diapers for growing families.
Paige Bourey says they provide toys for needy families like hers during Christmas time.
One problem facing the non-profit — a lack of money.
WEB EXTRA: The video below is the original News 8 report on Friendly Hands Food Pantry Tuesday
“We’ve operated through thick and thin up until this point, although there have been challenges,” said Danny Hartnett, President of the Board of Directors at Friendly Hands.
One of those challenges was a tragic chain of events this year. Three women who were key figures in running the food pantry all died in the first few months of 2020.
And just this week, Torrington Police began an investigation looking into an accusation of “financial irregularities” at the pantry.
News 8 asked Hartnett about that.
“Errors in the bookkeeping that dated back several months,” he said. “Maybe even as long as six months ago.”
Hartnett said the accusations stunned everyone at the food pantry. But, they took action and went right to the police.
“And we pulled back all the records from the last year and started going through month by month,” Hartnett said. “And we did notice some, I won’t say errors, but there were some out-of-the-ordinary expenses, etc.”
Hartnett told News 8 when he found out about the issue he was angry. He says he can’t say how much money was involved because the police asked him not to because of the active investigation. But, he says the accusations are out-of-character for a food pantry that helps about 350 families each month and has been part of helping the Torrington community for close to 30 years.
Hartnett, like many people, wants answers.
For now, Friendly Hands has time to get those answers, thanks to an outpouring of support by the community.