Katherine Hann took a few minutes away from her volunteer efforts of helping fill food hampers at the Valley Food Bank on Wednesday, Sept. 20, to deliver funding support from the Houlton Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
VFB executive director Monica Grant happily posed with Hann for a photo accepting the critical donation for the church branch, which serves both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.
“The Houlton branch is international,” Hann explained. “Some of us live in Canada and others in Maine.”
She said the Houlton Branch belongs to the Saint John New Brunswick Stake.
Hann explained congregations are divided geographically, with boundaries determined by the number of members in an area. She noted the Houlton branch is one of 13 units in the Saint John New Brunswick Stake.
She said the Houlton branch includes a chapel at the corner of Main and Neilson Streets in Woodstock, but it closed after the amalgamation with Houlton. She explained the congregation used the chapel when COVID restrictions interrupted travel to Houlton.
Hann explained the branch delivered the donation to the Valley Food Bank through the church’s Welfare and Self Reliance program designed to care for those in need while teaching principles that promote self-reliance and self-respect.
Hann said Branch President Patrick Black couldn’t attend the brief presentation at the Woodstock food bank because of other commitments.
She said branch members know the importance of the vital services VFB delivers to Upper St. John River Valley residents.
Grant said the Valley Food Bank’s growing client list highlights the vital need for its multi-faceted services.
She said the first nine days of September saw the food bank serve 535 clients, including 27 new families.
She said the high cost of food and housing makes it impossible for many people, even if employed, to meet the day-to-day financial demands.
Without the generous support of churches, service organizations, businesses, individuals and others, the Valley Food Bank could not deliver its essential services.
She hopes two significant upcoming annual campaigns gain widespread support.
Grant explained six local churches are part of the Love Atlantic campaign, which collects food donations, other items and funds for the Valley Food Bank and the Valley Family Resource Centre.
Last year, Love Atlantic brought in more than 10,000 pounds of food and other necessities for the two organizations.
Grant said plans are also in place for one of the Valley Food Bank’s traditional and most important annual events — the Turkey Drive.
The pivotal day of the campaign will be Nov. 20, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., during which Pure Country 104, in partnership with VFB, will promote the Turkey Drive.
Grant said the public can support the Turkey Drive by calling the Valley Food Bank at (506) 328 4417.
But, the focus will look beyond turkeys only, but, keeping with tradition, the cost of turkeys will measure donations.
A donation of $25 is measured as a half turkey and $ 50 as a whole turkey.
“This year, it is evolving to reflect the greatest need and will focus on collecting a variety of food items and cash donations,” explained Grant.
Grant explained providing food security to struggling people and families remains the core mandate for the Valley Food Bank, but their needs stretch well beyond the dinner table.
She said clients need personal grooming items, noting deodorant as an example.
Grant said soap, shampoo, body wash, toothbrushes, razors, laundry soap, and Kleenex are always in short supply.
While can goods are a staple in food hampers, their clients need can openers.
Whether it’s a donation of the needed items or cash to purchase what’s in short supply, community support helps the VFB meet the growing needs of its clients.
The Valley Food Bank can provide a list of needed items.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun