With the holiday season officially over, Spooner House the local homeless shelter and food pantry, is in need of food and other household items to restock its shelves.
Spooner House Development Officer Kate Pipa said each year an abundance of donations comes in during and before the holiday season but donations eventually slow down once the holidays end.
This year was no different, and as March begins, the Spooner House staff is asking all local communities to continue the support they showed during the holidays.
Valley Has a Heart
In an effort to address the decline in donations, Spooner House is preparing for the 15th annual Valley Has a Heart food drive that will take place Saturday, March 4. Donations to the food drive may be made at Stop & Shop on Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton or the store’s other locations in either Seymour or Ansonia.
The food drive was created 15 years ago to address the decline in donations after the holidays. Pipa said she’s hopeful that the donations collected will hold the Spooner House over until the letter carriers food drive that takes place in May.
Spooner House staff will gather at each of the participating Stop & Shop locations the day of the Valley Has a Heart food drive and will pass a “wish list” with items the shelter needs on it to shoppers before they enter the store to do their own shopping.
“At least 50%, if not more people, gladly pick up a couple of extra items and drop them to us on their way out,” said Pipa. “It’s very convenient for people. They feel good about helping someone else in need, and then when everyone does that throughout the day, it really adds up. We’re hoping to collect 5,000 items and $5,000.”
In 2016, the food drive collected 4,400 items for the shelter, so Pipa said she thinks the three communities will be able to achieve the goal. The goal of $5,000 would also be used to stock the shelves of the food pantry.
Offering a helping hand
Pipa said many people believe the food that is donated goes only to Spooner House clients, but that couldn’t be more wrong.
“Through the holidays we provide holiday meal baskets to anybody in the community that needs assistance,” said Pipa. “So it’s not just anybody that’s a food bank client, it’s really anyone who needs that help in November and December.”
Spooner House distributed 536 baskets to people in need this past holiday season. Pipa explained that anyone who registers for assistance from the shelter received a basket for both November and December. Each basket came stuffed with a frozen turkey, all the fixings and more.
The Spooner House serves 120 to 160 households per month, according to Pipa, which is more food than most people understand.
“Each person in each household gets 10 days worth of groceries,” said Pipa. “That’s 30 meals per person. We serve 300 to 350 people per month, so multiply that by the 30 meals each person gets … that’s a lot of food.”
The total meals the shelter provides per month is an estimated 10,500 to shelter clients and others in need.
The food pantry is stuffed with some items, but Pipa showed the current inventory and said there are many items Spooner House is looking to restock.
The following items are in high demand at the Spooner House for its food pantry: pasta sauce or canned tomatoes, tuna or canned chicken, canned ravioli, canned beans or dry beans, soups, cereals, rice, Hamburger Helper, macaroni and cheese, canned yams/vegetables, Ziploc bags, pancake mix, syrup, brownie/muffin/cake mix, crackers/cookies, hot cereal, granola bars, cleaning supplies, paper plates, napkins, plastic silverware, toilet paper, and tissues.
The Valley does have a heart
Pipa said the goal of the Spooner House is to help its clients become self-sufficient, and that when they succeed, it’s a special feeling.
“We sometimes get people that donate who were clients in the past or even are current clients. It’s not all the time, but when it does happen, it’s great,” said Pipa.
She explained that there are also cases where current clients want to get involved and volunteer in any way they can.
“It’s great to see that people who once benefited from the community’s help and kindness now want to give back and help others,” said Pipa.
There will be a friendly competition between the three Stop & Shop stores to raise the most dollars and nonperishable food items. Shoppers at all locations will receive a Spooner House “wish list” when they walk in the door with encouragement to donate on their way out. Anyone unable to make it to a store location on the day of the drive may make a tax-deductible donation online through the following link to help Spooner House achieve its $5,000 goal: www.bit.ly/VHAH2017.