NORFOLK — The Community Lunch Program for Kids, which serves children in Norwood, Norfolk and Raymondville, is seeking shoes, either gently used or new, that could help members earn $1,000 for their program.
The nonprofit, all-volunteer group is collecting the shoes as a fundraiser which could bring in $1,000 from Funds2Orgs. Wendy Chambers, the program director, said volunteers started collecting in September and will be running the drive until the end of October.
So far, they’ve collected 37 bags of shoes — each with 25 pairs of shoes. They’re hoping to collect an additional 65 bags — also with 25 pairs in each bag — to earn $1,000 from Funds2Orgs.
“It’s considered a mini-drive. We’re trying to collect 100 bags of shoes. Each bag has to have 25 pairs to 2,500 pairs of shoes,” Ms. Chambers said.
They can take virtually any type of shoe except roller blades, ice skates and roller shoes.
“We will take absolutely anything. We can take stiletto, flip flops, baby shoes. We’re paid by the pound. Things like work boots are going to be worth a lot more,” she said.
Ms. Chambers said their drive is similar to those launched by the Potsdam Humane Society and Massena Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, but on a smaller scale.
“We’re a smaller group, but we have wonderful, wonderful community support. We’re giving it a try,” she said.
Collection sites include the Norwood, Norfolk and Raymondville post offices, Norfolk and Norwood public libraries, Norwood American Legion, St. Andrew’s Church in Norwood, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Norwood, Common Cents Thrift Shop in Norwood, Church of the Visitation in Norfolk and Congregational Church in Norwood.
Sites can also be found at the United Methodist Church of Norwood, First United Methodist Church of Norfolk, Norfolk Wesleyan Church, Wagner’s Whistle Stop Thrift store in Norfolk and Norwood-Norfolk Central School, where collection boxes are located at the entrance to each building.
Funds2Orgs works with individuals who create micro-businesses in developing nations. The collected shoes are repurposed and sold to micro-entrepreneurs for a small cost, and the micro-entrepreneurs mark up the shoes and sell them in their local communities for a fraction of the original price, but still for a profit.
“They clean them up and they sell them. The shoes are not going to a landfill and money is being raised. It’s really a win-win situation,” Ms. Chambers said.
She said the $1,000 would allow the Community Lunch Program for Kids to provide more than 2,000 meals to children dealing with food insecurity in the Norwood, Norfolk and Raymondville area.
The program was started in June 2016 by a group of individuals who were concerned that local children living with food insecurity were left without the safety net of the free/reduced breakfast/lunch program when school was not in session for extended periods of time. It started with 24 families with 51 children, and provided more than 13,660 meals to local children living with food insecurity in the Norwood, Norfolk and Raymondville area in 2018.
The program is a 501(c)(3) organization under the umbrella of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Norwood. Because it’s a unique program, it doesn’t qualify for funding or grants that most north country food banks benefit from, such as Lights on the River, Northern New York Community Foundation or the Food Bank of Central New York. Instead, the program relies totally on donations from businesses, civic groups, church and individuals, and also write grants to solicit funds.
“Though we provide food to many of the same families as Norwood, Norfolk, Raymondville Outreach, the Norwood and the Norfolk-Raymondville Food Pantries and the NNCS Snack Pack Program, we do not receive funding from any of these programs. We are a totally independent program. Every penny of every dollar donated to CLPK is spent on the children. We have no overhead, no paid staff. The Parish of the Visitation and St. Raymond allows us the use of St. Raymond’s Church without cost. All extras such as mailing, photocopying, transportation are donated by our small army of volunteers,” Ms. Chambers said.
She said it’s the only program she is aware of in the north country that provides food to children when school is not in session.
“Snack pack programs cover weekends, and there are summer feeding programs, but I know of no other program that provides food for children over school breaks — February, April and November, as well as every two weeks during the summer vacation. This is why this fundraiser is so important to us. With 81 families with 202 children signed up for our Thanksgiving distribution, we need to stay on top of our game,” she said.