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Published: 07/28/2006    print this story   email this story  

Sandown icon is cherished town volunteer

By Michael Kelley

If you're from Sandown and have ever been to a local church, visited the retirement home, or ever needed a meal, chances are you've been helped by Eleanor Bassett.

Bassett, who has lived in Sandown her whole life and is a descendant of the town founders, is best known for her current work, running the local food pantry. She's been doing it for more than 30 years; although recently, the job has been met with new demands.

"We're starting to have seniors come in now, which we haven't had before," Bassett says. "Usually eight to 12 people will pick up food on Friday. We just ask that they give 24 hours notice, since we go by appointment."

As for the reason Sandown's elderly have been forced to look to the pantry, Bassett offers a couple of ideas.

"Well everything going up - medicine, bills - and I don't know if anything's gone down," she says.

An active church member, Bassett has been a constant presence at the St. Matthew's Methodist church and East Hampstead Union Church.

"I was the Sunday School superintendent and sang in the choir for St. Matthew's. I've been there for more than 60 years," Bassett says.

"Her volunteerism is her best trait; she helps so many people," says Arlene Bassett, Eleanor's sister-in-law who's known her for her entire life.

In the rare occasions where it is Eleanor who has needed help, the community is more than willing to pitch in and express its gratitude.

"I broke my wrist six weeks ago and haven't been able to do as much since, but a lot of people have volunteered to help out at the pantry, or to give rides for the caregivers," Eleanor says.

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