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June 27. 2013 8:40PM

New Ipswich couple pays it forward with BBQ to benefit Greenville food pantry

A year-and-a-half after her husband Thomas suffered a medical crisis, Annette Gallagher says they are ready to give back to the community that helped them so much.

Gallagher's restaurant, Nennie's 5 Star Café and Catering in the Newest Mall on Route 124/Turnpike Road in New Ipswich, plans to host a chicken barbecue Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. to benefit the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Greenville.

The dinner costs $7 and includes chicken, corn bread, potato salad, coleslaw, beans and a sundae for dessert.

Additionally, the Gallaghers are raffling off a hockey stick signed by Boston Bruins hockey great Ray Bourque. Raffle tickets are $1 or the donation of non-perishable food.

St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry serves the communities of Greenville, New Ipswich, Temple and Mason, and is located at the Sacred Heart Church on High Street in Greenville.

The food pantry was one of the many community resources the Gallaghers were aided by when Thomas Gallagher suddenly became paralyzed from the waist down due to a previously unknown bulging disc in his spine.

"You don't know sometimes why you land where you land and then something like this happens," Annette Gallagher said. "If it wasn't for the community, honestly, I don't know where we would be."

The community came through in so many ways, she said, between providing food, paying bills, donating a van and making their home handicap accessible.

Thomas Gallagher remains paralyzed but he has returned to teaching and coaching at a school in Massachusetts. He believes he will walk again one day, even though doctors say he is permanently paralyzed.

The Gallaghers' lives were transformed by the health crisis, she said, and though simple tasks are now daily challenges, the couple has never been happier.

"It was amazing. It actually made us stronger in our faith," Annette Gallagher said. "Something like this happens and you think this is it and it makes you wake up. We're enjoying life more now than we ever did. It's a struggle, but we're enjoying it."

Knowing that summertime is a low point for most food banks in terms of donations, Annette Gallagher organized the event.

With the holidays far away, people often forget the needs of food banks and low-income children who receive free meals at schools are now at home, she said.

"The food bank helped us out," she said. "We're ready to pay it forward and try to help other people."

mpierce@newstote.com


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