by Missy Fleming
Pennies for Change is a program that the Co-op started in June of 2016. What a success it has been! Through Pennies for Change, customers have the option to donate their change to an Upper Valley nonprofit by rounding up their order to the next full dollar amount. We would like to share a couple stories of how Pennies for Change has helped and would like to give a huge thank you to all of our members and shoppers for helping us help others.
The stories below are from letters and emails sent to us by our community partners. They are shared here unedited and with permission:
Stepping Stone & Next Step Peer Support & Crisis Respite Centers
(Editor’s note: Stepping Stone and Next Step practices intentional peer support to help those struggling with the effects and stigma of mental illness.)
Our Members will benefit directly from your donation. Our operating budget does not support monthly trips and events which are an important part of reducing the stigma of mental illness and providing leisure activities at no cost to our Members.
Here is what some of our Members from Next Step in Lebanon, and Stepping Stone in Claremont, have to say:
“We get to go on trips, and we get to have fun.”
“Well appreciated! We get to get out of town and go strawberry picking.”
“I will be able to go on trips and do fun stuff.”
“It’s nice that the people give back to the community, and this gives us the opportunity to do stuff.”
“Gives us a chance to do something special, like crafts and trips.”
“I love the cookouts, a chance for both center to get together as well as have good food.”
“Getting out of town and socializing is so helpful.”
(Editor’s note: Willing Hands takes high-quality donated food and distributes to needy throughout the Upper Valley.)
Willing Hands greatly appreciates the support of The Co-op Food Stores’ Members though the Pennies for Change program.
Over the course of the past 10 months the Pennies for Change program has allowed Willing Hands to increase our food rescue operations and deliver over 400,000 pounds of food to those in need. We are on track to have a record year with a 25% increase in food delivered. We would not have been able to achieve this without support from Pennies for Change and the Co-op Members. Additionally the support factored greatly into our decision to purchase a second refrigerated delivery truck that we will receive next week. Shopping at the Co-op and donating to Pennies for Change allows Willing Hands to reach more kids, families and seniors with free nutritious healthy food.
In the words of some recipients of Willing Hands produce:
“I am blessed . . . your benevolent work allows me to eat fresh, often organic, fruits, vegetables, and meat . . . Wow – you are truly wonderful folks – THANK YOU SO MUCH.”
“Our residents are on fixed incomes and the delivery has meant the difference between having fresh vegetables to eat . . . instead of cheaper non nutritional alternatives.”
“Our organization provides food each week to elementary school students who would be hungry without it. Our program only allows us to provide canned and other nonperishable food to these children (due to limited funds). Because of the help of Willing Hands we are able to provide each child with fresh fruits and vegetables each week, this produce is vital to their physical and mental development.”
Upper Valley Haven
(Editor’s note: The Upper Valley Haven is a non-profit, private organization that serves people struggling with poverty by providing food, shelter, education, service coordination, and other support.)
“It is not easy for people to ask for help. The Haven’s goal is to not only provide food for the hungry, but to do it in a way that people feel welcomed and nurtured in the process. In the words of Maya Angelou, our customers may not remember what we gave them in the Food Shelf, but they will remember how we made them feel. The Co-op’s Pennies for Change program makes us feel incredibly supported by the Co-op and the members of the community. Those pennies add up to make a BIG impact in the Haven’s Food Shelf. We can leverage those pennies to buy a lot of food for those in our community struggling with hunger.”
Missy is the Co-op member services manager and one of the organizers of Pennies for Change. (She also came up with the cool name!)
Our Co-op’s vision is a well-nourished community cultivated through cooperation.