Abreu honored for 'going above and beyond' at Fall River nonprofit

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FALL RIVER — Day in and day out, Tony Abreu and volunteers at Angels Anonymous work tirelessly to lift up Fall River residents in need.

And those efforts have not gone unnoticed.

They've even caught the attention of the New England Patriots, which recently honored Abreu, a founding member of the city nonprofit, for his dedication to improving the quality of life for those living in the SouthCoast.

In December, Abreu joined 17 honorees from across the region in being named a 2021 Patriots Difference Maker of the Week for going "above and beyond to support nonprofit organizations in our New England communities."

As part of this recognition, the New England Patriots Foundation presented Angels Anonymous in Fall River with a $5,000 donation to bolster its community service efforts.

This service includes their regular monthly food pantry, as well as neighborhood cleanups, community restoration projects, charitable drives, holiday assistance, LGBTQ events and more.

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“I’m honored to be recognized," said Abreu, in a news release from the foundation. "I’m only able to do this work with the support of the Angels Anonymous board of directors, our volunteers, and donors. I believe that one must not just live in a community and take from it what one needs but, must give back to the community in order for the community to grow and flourish.”

Abreu has dedicated thousands of hours to Angels Anonymous since coming on as board member on Day One. Utilizing his professional skills as a chef, he created the mobile food pantry.

They started small, distributing food at local parks for those in need, before securing a permanent location at 231 Weaver St., Fall River, and becoming a member agency of the Greater Boston Food Bank two years later.

With the help of the food bank and other donors, the Angels Anonymous food pantry now serves 600 families each month.

According to their Facebook page, 2021 was a particularly busy year for Angels Anonymous amid the pandemic. Last year, the nonprofit distributed over 600,000 pounds of food and supplies to over 35,000 folks in the SouthCoast.

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As families faced economic struggles due to COVID, pantry doors remained open and Abreu facilitated safe, contactless pickups. In November, the pantry provided 500 Thanksgiving meals to local families. Abreu was also involved with the creation of Miracle on Weaver Street, a free holiday event benefiting 300 families.

“Hunger is a huge problem in New England and we must all work together towards ending any food insecurities and putting an end to hungry bellies,” Abreu said. “The goal of any good food pantry is to be put out of business and win the war on hunger.”

This past fall, Angels Anonymous also received a citation from Mayor Paul Coogan in recognition of the organization's accomplishments in combatting food insecurity in Fall River by providing free groceries at city events over the summer.

The Patriots Difference Maker of the Week Award, now in its 11th year, is part of the foundation’s Celebrate Volunteerism initiative aimed at educating fans about the need for volunteering and highlighting deserving volunteers from across the region.

In addition to $5,000 donations to support each organization represented by honorees, Abreu and his fellow award recipients also took part in a year-end virtual celebration with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and other members of the foundation to personally congratulate them on their accomplishments.

“Each of these honorees has their own unique story of community service and we are proud to shine a light on the tremendous work they are doing," said Josh Kraft, president of the New England Patriots Foundation, in a press release. "We would like to thank all of this year’s Patriots Difference Makers for helping to build stronger New England communities.”

Abreu wasn't the only SouthCoast honoree.

Richard Jacobs of Dartmouth was dubbed 2021 Patriots Difference Maker of the Year for his work with Angel Flight Northeast, which was awarded a $20,000 donation.

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Volunteer pilots like Jacobs offer their services free of charge to ensure that distance is never an obstacle for patients who need life-saving medical care. Jacobs has been with the organization since its inception 25 years ago, completing more than 800 flights. He is always on call and is ready to donate his time, aviation fuel and airplane to help those in need, a release from the New England Patriots Foundation states.

This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Abreu honored for work with Fall River's Angels Anonymous food pantry

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