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A Church with a Mission: St. Paul's & the Vergennes Community Food Shelf

by Judy Martel

St. Paul’s started helping the Vergennes Community Food shelf over 20 years ago when the children were encouraged to bring a donation for the food basket which one of them subsequently brought to the altar with the plate offering.

St. Paul’s involvement has become much more since then: the vestry donates money twice a year and the congregation continues to bring donations for the basket.

Started in a back room of the church more than 20 years ago, the Vergennes Community Food Shelf now serves approximately 6,000 Addison County residents annually from the red building beside the manse. This cooperative community effort is staffed by volunteers from our church and several other area churches. The Food Shelf is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2pm - 4pm and Saturdays from 8am - 10am for those seeking assistance. Non-perishable donations may be dropped in the box under the connector at any time or inside the church when it is open. Perishable or large donations may be dropped off by appointment. Please call the church at (802) 877-2435.

In addition, when Shaw’s runs a promotion, members donate their extra stamps, whether for Rachel Ray plates, knives, storage containers or the latest Shaw’s promotion which was Monopoly. With the congregation’s help we got over $550.00 in groceries from that one promotion. I did a lot of Monopoly ticket opening! When the promotion hands out stamps, the Sunday school children paste them in books, and when the books are full I turn them in for whatever the store is promoting.

In addition to money and groceries, St. Paul’s also supplies helpers for the thrice weekly open days. Lee and I have been staffing the Tuesday food shelf for about 15 years as well as helping to unload the food bank truck, picking up from Shaw’s, stocking shelves and whatever else needs doing.

When I get tired or frustrated I remember the woman who burst into tears the first time she came to the food shelf. She hadn’t eaten in three days…or the man who told us that dog food didn’t taste too bad with milk on it (I told him he was welcome to come see us more often because that was unacceptable).

In addition to these well stocked shelves we have two refrigerators, four upright freezers, and two chest freezers.

People are asked to try to limit visits to twice month but we are church run and exceptions are always made when necessary.

Our helpers have included Mary Gordon and her daughter Kim Daniels, Sue Berkenbush, Lenore Morse, Mary Pratt, Fr. Alan, and Diane Merrill. All the workers are volunteers; all the money donated goes for food.

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