Rob Gatchell, a woodworker and photographer who for years has delighted Islanders with a spectacular holiday light display at his County Road home in Oak Bluffs, outdid himself this year. Not only was the display grander, but the donations collected for the Island Food Pantry, which are a Gatchell holiday hallmark, were double what they were the previous year.
Sadly absent this year was Lynn Gatchell, Rob’s wife, who’d been a partner in the display for 35 years and in the donations for 21 years; she died in September. Rob lit up his home and took in donations without her this year. When they gave this year, many folks gave in memory of her, Rob said.
Margaret Hannemann, former executive director and president of the Island Food Pantry and a current Island Grown Initiative board member, acknowledged Rob’s generosity and the difficult circumstances that generosity came with this year. “He’s such a wonderful man,” Hannemann said.
Donations came in at such a volume this year, Hannemann said, Rob had to bring over a first load to the pantry in mid-December. He traditionally drops donations off after the New Year.
Gatchell said he made his first delivery in the third week of December, and his second and final delivery last week. In total, he said, he delivered 3,120 pounds of food, roughly a ton and a half. The food was donated at his home between Thanksgiving evening and New Year’s Eve. From there, he took it to the food pantry. “Definitely the biggest haul ever,” he said.
He said that haul amounted to 70 boxes of food, and numerous bags of groceries. Christmas Eve alone saw 44 bags of groceries given, he said.
Hannemann expressed deep gratitude to Gatchell, and to all the people ‘who give so generously” to the Island Food Pantry.