Bands and gymnasts raise money for Food Shelf


TOWNSHEND -- An idea sparked by local bands wanting to play music and kids wanting to perform gymnastic tricks led to a donation to the Townshend Community Food Shelf that was much appreciated.

"We wanted to get together and just have a fun end of summer concert that would be fun and to raise funds for the upcoming winter for the food shelf," said local musician Laura Clark.

The Townshend Community Food Shelf received approximately $350 from the concert held on Aug. 27 at the Townshend Common. It was free to attend but children from Jamaica did gymnastic tricks and collected donations. Clark estimated 200 people came out for the event.

Her daughters, Lily, 11, and Alice, 7, were among the group doing gymnastic tricks. Anna VanOsdol, 7, and Ruby Hallenbeck, 6, were also performing tricks with Gaby Walton, a Leland and Gray student.

"They did most of the work," Clark said. "Although we were playing music, they were pretty funny going around."

Performances were all done acoustically and included Clark's bluegrass band known as the Bondville Boys, Gene Morrison and Joinery. Each group recently released new albums that they wanted to promote.

Clark recalled when concerts were held at the Townshend Common a few times each summer. She said she has spoken with Selectboard members of the town about possibly having concerts there again.

"They were supportive of the idea of bringing free concerts back there," Clark said. "And we would connect them to community service missions. It would be nice to make more money for say, the animal shelter or homeless shelter and other charitable associations in the (West River) Valley."

According to Townshend Community Food Shelf Board member Joe Winrich, use of the food shelf resources has been steady.

"Since 2007, really when the economy started to tank, we've been steadily serving somewhere between 25 and 40 families every week," he said.

Those who receive food come to the Townshend Church on Monday nights and fill out paperwork for statistical purposes. The church is where the food shelf is housed and is located on the Common.

Once a month, a truck drops off three or four pallets of food. The inventory includes shelf-stable food, fresh produce and frozen food.

Over 35 people volunteer in some capacity. There are board members who oversee operations while others assist with patrons coming in on Monday nights.

Traditionally, sixth graders from Townshend Elementary School volunteer and give up their recess to stock the shelves.

"They're good at it. They have boundless energy," said Winrich.

It's rare now for a Monday night to go by without having someone drop off fresh produce from their own garden, Winrich told the Reformer. A few bags of yellow squash were recently donated to the food shelf.

"Our patrons really enjoy it," Winrich added. "Fresh produce is a beautiful thing."

Through a new gleaning program, the Newfane-based Kindle Farm School raises crops and donates its surplus to the food shelf.

Soon, fundraising for Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets given to food shelf patrons will begin. Winrich said people should be on the look out for the second annual Turkey Drop event, which involves throwing a paper mache turkey out of a window to raise money for those holiday baskets.

According to Winrich, the end of the year is typically when people start thinking about writing a donation check. Anyone interested in volunteering can call Winrich at 802-365-4348 or the church at 802-365-4321 for more information.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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