JoEllen Cottrell at the Friends Alternative Craft Fair
JoEllen Cottrell at the Friends Alternative Craft Fair

On Sunday, JoEllen Cottrell, the executive director of the Winthrop Food Pantry, set up a table at the alternative craft fair at the Winthrop Center Friends Church. At that table, she offered donation gift cards to be purchased on behalf of family and friends. The idea, which many nonprofit organizations use, is to encourage people to make donations that are also gifts to family and friends, and JoEllen had put together some lovely photo cards that included a short note of explanation. I bought a donation card on behalf of a family member, and this will be tucked in among other goodies in that person’s Christmas package.

JoEllen asked for volunteers to help staff the table, and as I was planning to go to the craft fair anyway, I volunteered to join her for a couple of hours. The Friends Church is a lovely white old-fashioned building with stained-glass windows that make the interior rather dark, but somehow, most appropriately for a Friends Church, the effect is peaceful and tranquil rather than gloomy.

Being fellow foodies, JoEllen and I chatted about food and the food pantry. Business was not exactly brisk, although we did make a few sales, but the time was pleasantly spent. More important, we got the food pantry out into the community, and it is our plan to do more of this. As I have written in previous posts about the food pantry, this is a critical moment for our food pantry. Because of the hard economic times, more people need to come to the food pantry yet affordable food has become very difficult to find. For now, at least, getting most of what we need from the Good Shepherd Food Bank for 16 cents a pound seems to be a thing of the past. I will quote Craig Hickman yet again: The excess in the system is drying up.

This means we have to diversify if we are to keep the food pantry running, and part of that strategy involves being ever more present in the community. So to fairs and events we will go, spreading the word about our mission to feed people. There are even plans afoot to march in the holiday parade. Ho-ho-ho!


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