By Susan Ohanian

In our current time “when much is broken, uncertain, and anxious,” Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, Charlotte Congregational Church, UCC, wrote, “may you be encouraged by what you are doing, and what we are doing together as one creative and resilient community.” These words capture the spirit of the wonderful community outreach shown to the Charlotte Food Shelf this month. “The regulars” at the Food Shelf are so taken with the many creative and generous acts from our resilient community that they want to share the good news. Of special note, contributors ranged in age from kids whose birthdays don’t yet reach double digits to nonagenarians.

After reading articles that forecast massive food shortages, Ella Kenney designed a project to provide some basics for people in her community needing assistance. Although Ella lives in Williston, she is a junior at Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU) and her notion of “community” extends beyond Williston town lines, reaching out to other towns from which CVU draws students: Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne and St. George.

In addition to a generous spirit, Ella’s project exhibited a lot of organization. She not only set up the collection sites but also surveyed individual Food Shelf organizers to determine a town’s pressing needs. Here’s one notice she posted on Front Porch Forum for her drive to benefit the Charlotte Food Shelf:

Redhawks Food Drive At CCS
When? Sunday, April 26th from 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Where? Charlotte Central School

If you are fortunate enough to be able to donate, please strongly consider it. All donations from this food drive will go to local town food shelves. Please spread the word about this food drive with your friends and neighbors!

The Charlotte Food Shelf is specifically asking for: toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, bleach, rubbing alcohol 70% or more, dish soap, sanitizing wipes. Any food donations are also appreciated. 

On the designated day, Ella set up a table in the Charlotte Central School parking lot with a “Donations” sign so people could drive by and make contact-free donations. She noted, “Between every donation, I am sanitizing and disinfecting the table and the donations.” 

Ella operated similar drives in other towns. She explains, “This offers me a project that I can engage in, keeping myself busy while helping out the community!”

Susan Raber Bray explains her inspiration: “I know we are looking for ways to contribute to our communities during this difficult time.” Susan calls on her own creative talents to raise money for those who might need a little help with food and utilities. Just one day after making a Front Porch Forum post offering the proceeds of one hundred handmade ceramic bowls to benefit the Charlotte Food Shelf, Susan had orders for $1,216 worth of bowls. A day later it was $1,710. And counting. You can see these beautiful bowls and view contact information at Susan Raber Bray’s website

Jonathan Couture’s motto is “Think Global…Act Local.” He makes and sells hand sanitizer with the goal of selling enough to be able to donate 100 bottles of sanitizer to area nonprofits that need it. The Charlotte Food Shelf and Charlotte Fire and Rescue are local beneficiaries.

Nancy and Bob Bloch are moving South . . . to south Charlotte. They decided to convert their plan for a “moving away” yard sale of items collected for 40 years to a “free stuff giveaway” fundraiser for the Food Shelf: tons of garden supplies, dishes, furniture, equestrian supplies, recreational items, books, statues, tools. In Nancy’s words, “You name it; we had it.”

This was a social-distancing event, complete with masks and gloves. The Blochs were careful about safety protocols. People parked in the street, wore gloves and face masks, viewed merchandise widely spaced in an outside area. Nancy reports that the best thing about the event was seeing faces light up when people discovered and grabbed a treasure that she and Bob were about to discard.

The items were free but the Blochs requested that a donation of any size be made to the Charlotte Food Shelf. This “free stuff giveaway” raised $500. Donors in addition to the Blochs included Janet Morrison, Kimberly Cynewski, Daniel Pflaster and Tanna Kelton, and Catherine and Gregory Manning.

Laura Igelhart took a donation of many games and puzzles from Wow Toyz and made sure they had a rest/decontamination period before delivering them to the Food Shelf. At the Food Shelf, Cindy Tyler plans to pack up new books along with art supplies from Color My World with these Wow Toyz treats as creative diversions for kids who are being cooped up for long hours.

Although the library is sheltered, it still operates as a Food Shelf donation site. The following people donated food and supplies to the receptacle on the porch: Jessica Shevitz Rauch, Liza Woodruff, Kate Jennings and her neighbors, Alice McEnaney, Thomas Hengelsberg, Judy Hill, Scott and Liz Lollis, Zaw and family, Brad Palmer and Claire Simon.

When making her very generous donation of household products and meat, Louise McCarren didn’t forget the pets. There was a case of canned cat food as well as dog treats.

Joan White organized a grocery drive in the Ten Stones neighborhood. Patti Naritomi brought in groceries. Fat Cow Farm donated three large turkeys. Seth Zimmerman offered a mattress.

Back Door Bread and Rise ‘n Shine donated bread; thanks to Kit Thurber for coordinating pick up.

The Food Shelf also offers enormous thanks to a host of benefactors:

Charlotte Congregational Church, Friends of Charlotte Senior Center, Charlotte, Shelburne and Hinesburg Rotary, Raymond James. Nancy and David Pricer, Donna and Remo Pizzagalli, Robert and Marjorie Archer, Julie Kaplan and Uwe Mester, Richard and Margaret Keach, Deborah (Raven) Davis, Julian Kulski and Lisa Boyle, Elizabeth Bassett and John Pane, Kathleen Nolan, Bethany Myrick, Norman and Sandy Riggs, William and Emily Kallock, Charles and Caroline Sprigg, Nancy Wood, Liz and Jim Foster, Karen and William Bruett, Carl and Carlanne Herzog, Ruah Swenerfelt and Louis Cox, Robin and Robert Coleburn, Josie and Benjamin Kaestner, Linda Hamilton, Anne Castle Co-op, Ebeth and Tom Scatchard, Kathleen Nolan, Patricia Netherwood, Frances Foster, Eleanor Capeless.