Dear Pantry Friends
Happy Fall! I hope that this message finds you and your loved ones feeling well, staying healthy, and enjoying new ways of doing some of the activities (some of which you will read about in this month's newsletter!) that we've always done during this time of the year. Life looks different now, but it is becoming our new normal. I have heard so many people talk about how hard 2020 has been... and it hasn't been easy - I agree! But if I had to choose two words to describe 2020, I would use the words flexibility and kindness. I have learned from so many of you - our dedicated staff members, volunteers, donors, neighbors, and partners.
Flexibility. The team at the Pantry has been incredibly flexible over the past few months. When so many organizations, businesses, schools, and companies had to close their doors, we kept ours open. We had to re-envision the Pantry - our "open doors" were open for us to leave the building and bring the Pantry outside and place food in our neighbor's car trunks, shopping carts, or drop at their front doors. We had to ask our over 50 volunteers to stay home and stay safe, while our small Pantry staff flexed their schedules to best reach the needs of our neighbors. That meant standing outside for 4-8 hours a couple of times a week safely welcoming people driving up to us and asking them to "please pop your trunk," and place a few bags of food in their cars. Flexibility also meant creating 2 separate teams of people who would come into the Pantry and designated days to pack bags, make phone calls, deliver food to neighbors so that our staff could still operate in the event someone became ill. It also meant juggling home and work life as we, like so many businesses, held team meetings from home while children were attending school in another room or while we may be caring for or checking in on an elderly neighbor. This team has been nothing but flexible in reimagining the Pantry and making sure that we were still here to provide food for anyone who found themselves needing an extra hand.
Kindness. That has been shown to the Pantry over and over - pre-Covid and, especially, over the last few months. Through the kindness and generosity of our friends, we have been able to continue to operate and offer our neighbors fresh and healthy food throughout the pandemic and for the foreseeable future. When we posted our current needs on our website, you answered our call immediately. Your financial support has been appreciated as well. While many of our retail partners struggled to keep products on their own shelves, our store donations decreased. We therefore had to purchase more food in order to ensure our neighbors continued receiving high quality, fresh produce, dairy and proteins. Our shelf stable bags contain items that would last a week or more while including hard to get items like toilet paper and paper towels. So many community members sewed masks and donated them to us so that our staff would be safe while working, and also shared enough to give to our neighbors as they drove through our lines. There were numerous fundraisers held to raise money and spread awareness about the Food Pantry. For those reasons, and so many more, we are grateful for your kindness and support.
In the midst of the Pandemic we were also able to purchase a new building to help bring our Pantry into the next phase of being able to better serve our neighbors. That purchase has prompted some people to ask, "If you can afford a building, why should I continue to give to the Pantry?" Because of the generosity of our community, we were able to put down a down payment and qualify for a mortgage. We will be announcing a capital campaign soon. In the meantime, we ask for your support so that we can continue growing and serving our neighbors with dignity, respect, and pride.
Our mission is to alleviate food insecurity and compassionately empower our community through resources and collaboration. This mission can only be accomplished through the collective effort of our community. It is because of your collective support that we have been able to save enough money to purchase our own space. This new space will allow us to continue working towards our mission, while also focusing on our vision of building a community in which everyone in need has an improved quality of life through nutritious food and supportive resources. We have always been, and always will be, so much more than a place where one can come for food. We are also a place where people come to check in and socialize, learn about other programs, or simply find a friendly face that will be welcome without judgement. And it is because of your support that we will continue to serve the community, our neighbors, partners, and friends in a new space that belongs to every neighbor who walks through our doors.
We cannot do it alone. When you make a gift to the Pantry, you are making a difference today, as well as for the future of Franklin. Every dollar donated helps the Pantry purchase fresh produce, household supplies, toiletries, grocery store gift cards, and so much more. Your gift is also going to help us build a Pantry where everyone feels welcome. Your generosity allows us to provide these basic necessities to our neighbors while also providing the validation that the whole community is behind them. While we are doing the daily work at the Pantry, you are here with us each and every day. No one is ever alone.
So as we approach the final few months of 2020, we just want to say thank you. Thank you for your support over this challenging year and we look forward to what we can do in the future, together.