CANTON — Now in its 46th year, the Church and Community Program has taken a four-block journey from its former Main Street headquarters to a new location on Court Street over the last month.
Outgrowing its space at the corner of Main Street and Riverside Drive, the CCP Food Pantry and Second Chance Thrift Shop have moved to 30 Court St., with a reopening scheduled for Wednesday.
“We’ve looked for a place for almost three years, and this one suddenly came up and was just right,” CCP Director Connie Jenkins said.
Previously Freihofer Bakery Outlet, 30 Court St. is wheelchair accessible with a flat loading area and distinct spaces for the thrift shop, storage, pantry shelves, pantry refrigeration and an office, totaling a much larger footprint than the former building, which was lined with a multi-level loading area in the rear.
CCP board member and incoming vice president, Cheryl Glidden said the new location is an especially “wonderful spot” because of its physical accessibility and convenient parking in front of the Court Street plaza.
The move began about three weeks ago with the thrift shop inventory and concluded Thursday with the food pantry move, and volunteers will continue to organize and set up for its reopening next week.
“We’re 46 years old and we have a very special spot in the community,” Ms. Jenkins said. “I am very grateful and stunned by the generosity, support and kindness that people have shown us from the beginning. This move is a big step forward so that we can do our job and do it better, and we’re only here because people have supported us.”
During the 2019 Christmas season, thousands of dollars worth of labeled Christmas gifts for children were stolen from the CCP’s Main Street store. Three months later, a global pandemic arrived in the north country.
But in all moments of collective struggle, Ms. Jenkins said, church sponsors and community members have showed up — Christmas gifts were replaced and items were donated throughout the COVID-19 health crisis.
Ms. Jenkins recalled finding a box of masks “for your volunteers” and bags of food left outside the CCP this spring.
“People never stopped giving to us,” she said. “We’re the mirror or window for their kindness, it just passes through us.”
Serving low-income families and older adults in the towns of Canton, Clare, DeKalb, Hermon and Russell, the CCP food pantry remained open in a limited capacity while the thrift shop closed to the public this spring. With next week’s reopening at the new location, the pantry will still function in a limited capacity until further notice.
From noon to 3 p.m. Wednesdays, food pantry volunteers will continue to provide prepared boxes of food items, as the organization has done throughout the pandemic to reduce mingling of in-person pantry shoppers. The CCP hopes to return to its normal three-day-a-week pantry hours this fall. The thrift shop will reopen from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays starting Wednesday.
“It’s hard, and I’m not sure it’s the right time,” Ms. Jenkins said of reopening the thrift shop. “But we’ve been down more than four months, and we’re taking precautions, and if the virus flares up around here again, we’ll close again. It’s not worth dying over.”
Volunteers have already undergone two trainings in the last few weeks, learning how to properly disinfect the thrift shop and pantry and reviewing updated opening and closing guidelines. Masks must be worn to enter the building.
Thursday’s pair of movers, of the Canton-based Moved In company, Alex Boak and Bryan Parker offered services for free, and Canton Apples provided a refrigerated trailer to transport cold and frozen pantry items.
From 10 a.m. to noon July 30, the day after the CCP reopening, Ms. Jenkins said the organization has partnered with St. Lawrence University, Gardenshare and Cornell Cooperative Extension to distribute 300 portions of U.S. Department of Agriculture food from New York farmers. Distribution will take place in SLU’s Parking Lot J off Park Street.
For more information, please contact the Ms. Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-386-3534.