NARRAGANSETT – Living up to its creed of being a community entity, Sunset Farm on Point Judith Road recently provided meals and toys for families in need, first responders and elderly residents just in time for the holiday season. Though an end-of-year tradition at the farm, with a pandemic upending daily life this year and providing unforeseen and unique challenges such as risk of exposure, Ethan Farrell, who operates the farm with his family, said the need was greater than ever before.
“This year, more than ever, the community really needed it,” Farrell explained. “There weren’t really a whole lot of options this year for people who needed a leg up.”
As such, the farm’s charitable actions began during Thanksgiving, when the farm provided over 40 meals to local first responders, families in need or the elderly who, because of social distancing around COVID-19, may have been alone during the holiday. The free dinners consisted of all the classic Thanksgiving meal staples prepared by Sunset Farm – turkey, stuffing, potatoes, butternut squash and cookies and pie for dessert.
“People got the full Thanksgiving experience,” said Farrell, “from dinner to dessert.”
Then, for the December holidays, three options from the farm were available – a ham dinner, a turkey dinner and prime rib dinner. About 65 meals went out from Sunset Farm again to first responders, families in need and the elderly. Farrell was able to utilize the digital realm to advertise the program and get the word out to anyone who may have needed a little help around the holidays.
“For Christmas especially, I was able to advertise it on some of the social media pages dedicated to the town, and a lot of people got in contact with us for meals,” he said. “We did anywhere from nurses who were working or their families, to the elderly who did not have a whole lot of options. For example, we delivered several meals to the apartment building behind O’Neill’s Package Store. We served and delivered quite a few meals to Narragansett and South Kingstown.”
Meals for the holidays were also served to the Narragansett Police and Fire Departments, with volunteers helping to deliver the food all over Narragansett and the neighboring South Kingstown.
Preparing and cooking the food was completed by Farrell’s father, Jeff Farrell, and Jeff Anderson.
Wanting to provide people the full holiday and Christmas experience, Sunset Farm also solicited toy donations from the public, collecting and donating about 900 toys to local community service organizations such as the Johnnycake Center of Peacedale and local churches, as well as some sites in Providence. The organizations then distributed the toys to clients. Toys this year ranged from “Star Wars,” to Legos, to action figures from the classic film “The Goonies,” Barbie Dolls and nerf guns.
With many members of the public donating cash to the cause, Farrell did much of the toy shopping himself with the help of volunteers.
“We started with our toy drive that we usually do,” he said. “There was no Christmas Party this year for obvious reasons, so people just dropped off toys at the farm and we became the collection site. We collected a bunch of toys, probably 900 total toys, to give to the Johnnycake Center of Peacedale and several churches in southern Rhode Island and Providence. We loaded up the cars and delivered all the toys.”
While many have concerns that extend beyond presents for Christmas or the holidays this year, the local community rising up to boost itself, its civil servants and its most vulnerable during a celebratory time has been stronger than ever in response to the uncertainty around the pandemic.
“This year was hard on a lot of folks and families,” Farrell concluded. “I think it was important for us to do our part like we always try to do this year more than ever and I think we went above and beyond and a lot of people were very thankful for it.”