Brattleboro restaurant's 'Feeding Friendzy' benefits Carry Me Home

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BRATTLEBORO >> Wednesday evening the Elliot Street Fish, Chips and More restaurant raised $683 for the "Carry Me Home" non-profit organization.

This was the restaurant's third charity night, or as they call it "Feeding Friendzy," event. Every first Wednesday of the month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. the restaurant donates 60-percent of the evening's profits to a local non-profit organization. This month, the co-owners, Erin Scaggs and Olivia DeWolfe, donated to"Carry-Me-Home," an organization that ships baby carriers and winter clothing and boots to refugees in conjunction with another larger group "Are you Syrius?"

"The whole project is a really special change to help people," said Scaggs.

Vedrana Greatorex, of Spofford, N.H., started what is now Carry Me Home, a volunteer project, to tackle what she calls the "refugee crisis." Greatorex grew up in Croatia and moved to the U.S. when she was 20 years old. Are You Syrious? has been granted a non-profit humanitarian organization certification by the Croatian government. They transport and ship aid and dispatch volunteers, 40 core and 250 off and on people to Slovenia, Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece. Carry Me Home has supported Are You Syrious with over 120 baby carriers, close to 100 children's winter outerwear sets, 30 pairs of kids' winter boots and more than $2,500 in cash donations. Carry Me Home help raise funds by soliciting donations through their website at https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/carry-me-home--2 She also suggests visiting their Facebook page, "Carry Me Home."

Scaggs and DeWolfe decided to take a strategic approach for January's Feeding Friendzy so that customer's could receive their meals within a shorter wait time.

"We were finding that people were waiting a long time, at the two prior events we had a line out the door for almost three hours," said Scaggs. This past Wednesday they cut the wait time by offering a limited menu, where wraps and tacos were not offered. "It's a tiny place and there's not the much space for people to sit, while people are really happy and jolly to be here and support a good cause, they don't want to wait an hour for their food."

DeWolfe does not work Wednesday nights, which meant that all hands were on deck for the Feeding Friendzy. Locals volunteered their cooking and register skills for the evening, which included community members, Scaggs' husband Jason and one of their children, Ella, 10.

Ella worked the cash register at some points throughout the night and also kept an eye on some of the younger children as they scurried from the colorful chalkboard to other parts of the restaurant. Aside from enjoying free food as a volunteer, Ella also found the value in giving.

"We gave them some vests and coats and that made me feel good because I know I'm going to help other people stay warm and dry," said Ella.

Scaggs is a friend of Greatorex, but also chose this organization for the month's charity event because of its philanthropic work. As a mother of three, Scaggs says she was deeply moved by the images portrayed through the media of the refugees that have suffered and walk around without garments such as shoes or coats.

"I have a picture of one of the children wearing one of my middle child's parkas," said Scaggs. "I think it's pretty rare to be able to touch people so far across the world in such a direct way, so I feel very lucky to be able to help."

According to Greatorex, so far her organization, "Carry Me Home," has raised $2,055, which goes directly to the Are You Syrious group. In addition, Carry Me Home collects material donations such as baby carriers, winter jackets for children, snow boots, socks, hats, adult shoes and adult socks that are new with tags. Greatorex says that they also fundraise for shipping funds, which covers postage, tape bagging and boxing supplies. Carry Me Home volunteers are in the process of packing their fifth shipment, which will go to Lesbos, Greece. Their fourth shipment weighed more than 500 pounds and was sent to Chios, Greece, which cost about $1,700 to package and send.

"Chios, Lesbos and Kos are the three islands where the majority of the refugees have been landing there," said Greatorex.

Rev. Bert Marshall of Centre Congregational Church in Brattleboro at 193 Main St. has offered their place of worship as a space for packaging. If individuals would like to volunteer, there is help needed Monday mornings at the church from 9 a.m. to noon. Greatorex asks that those who are interested, please reach her at 802-579-2936 or at CarryMeHomeCampaign@gmail.com

"Keep the donations coming, we really appreciate the support for the shipping funds, though I think money is the hardest to give because it requires that extra step of trust. We are also a rich community in heart, but not necessarily in funds," said Greatorex. "I think the next step is really going to require a new influx of volunteers."

The Packaging Coordinator of "Carry Me Home," Inga Paluh of West Chesterfield also hopes that in addition to the funds received from Feeding Friendz, Paluh hopes that individuals will help with packing and sorting. Paluh feels a deep connection to this issue as she is a mother and is originally form Poland.

"I can't imagine not having my house or anything and then taking care of kids on top of it," said Paluh. "By volunteering, I feel like I'm doing something about it."

In addition to funds and volunteerism, Greatorex asks for suggestions about efficient and inexpensive overseas shipping.

Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275


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