Crop walk and food drive a success

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
East Windsor - posted Mon., Oct. 24, 2011
Individuals and families did the 3-mile walk. Photos by Jennifer Coe.
Individuals and families did the 3-mile walk. Photos by Jennifer Coe.

A concentrated effort to feed the hungry in East Windsor has produced a harvest for the Five Corner Cupboard located at First Congregational Church.  This past weekend about 5,000 empty bags returned filled with food donations, and 25 walkers raised funds for the pantry in an attempt to keep them stocked throughout the winter.

CropWalk, which is an annual, as well as nationwide event, sent volunteer fundraisers from East Windsor for a three-mile walk after having collected hundreds of dollars in pledges.  Some were first-timers, some were too young to walk on their own, but all of them were enthusiastic.

“This is my way of giving back to this church for all of the things they did for me,” said CropWalk coordinator Cheryl Steyr-Bellisle.  “There was a time when I depended on a food pantry,” she recalled.

Twenty five percent of the funds raised will go to restocking the shelves at the pantry.  The pantry is located in a tiny space within the church and welcomes clients in every week to supplement their groceries.  The shelves, as of late, had gotten pretty depleted.  “Summer time is our busiest time of year,” said pantry co-coordinator, Marie Groves.

In addition to the CropWalk, Cub Scout Pack #89 and all the Girl Scout troops in town delivered and then picked up between 4,500 and 5,000 grocery bags that residents had filled with needed items. The fellowship hall of the church was stacked with boxes and bags and crates that volunteers had organized, as the troops brought the donations back, and it was still coming in.

“It’s an annual, town-wide thing,” said Groves.  “The donations come in so quickly, we don’t really have time to sort them till later,” she said.  “But the items which were collected will last us until about February.”

“[The donations] appear to be a little lower than last year,” said Kevin Pedersen, from Pack  #89, “but anything we get is great,” he said. Pedersen said that the troops gain value from “working together and helping everybody.”

CropWalk volunteers Marci and her three boys, Brendan, Jackson and Ryan, were the first to return from their walk.  “We’ve done this almost every year,” she said. “It’s for an excellent purpose.  It makes you feel, in a small way, what other people feel who have to walk for their food everyday,” she said.

So-called Grand Marshall of the walk was dedicated fundraiser Gerda Mikkelsen.  Mikkelsen has raised thousands of dollars for CropWalk every year, but this year she was unable to walk due to an injury. She rode in a car alongside the walkers with friend Lou McGonagle.

Now the task at hand is finding a secure storage space in the building for all the boxes of cereal, oatmeal, pasta and spaghetti sauce.

“We don’t know who is hungry,” said Steyr-Bellisle. 

The pantry’s list of clientele is always growing. The Five Corner Cupboard is East Windsor’s only food pantry and has been running for 35 years.  Cub Scout Pack #89 has assisted the food pantry since 1945.


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