Showing posts with label Windham Food Pantry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Windham Food Pantry. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2024

RSU 14 vehicle donations promote community service

By Lorraine Glowczak

Promoting a culture of community engagement, the RSU 14 school district works to demonstrate by example the impact that educational institutions can have beyond the four walls of the classroom.

RSU 14's recent donations of a van and school bus to
the Windham Food Pantry and the Raymond Parks and
Recreation Department are intended to strengthen the
district's partnership with the local community.
Acknowledging the transportation requirements of the Windham Food Pantry for delivering food to elderly individuals and shut-ins, as well as facilitating ongoing educational opportunities through recreational activities, the district has donated a school van to the food pantry and a school bus to Raymond Parks and Recreation.

The district's dedication to academic excellence includes in its mission to instill values of compassion, service, and social responsibility among its students and staff.

“Community service has always been a focus and academic commitment of the school board,” RSU 14 Superintendent Christopher Howell said. “It’s the reason why it has been incorporated as a graduation requirement through the Capstone Project which integrates a service-learning component.”

Howell said that hands-on engagement in community initiatives not only fosters well-rounded graduates but also nurtures a sense of civic responsibility and empathy among its student body.

“We have always been supportive of student initiatives like PowerServe and clubs like the National Honor Society and Key Club of which community service is the focus,” he said. “Alongside endorsing service learning, the district aims to set an example through its actions.”

Typically, retired school vehicles are auctioned off. However, upon recognizing opportunities to serve the broader community with these vehicles, the district opted for donations instead of auctioning them off.

In 2022, Raymond Parks and Recreation received a donated RSU 14 school bus, supporting resources of this relatively new department within the Town of Raymond. Committed to serving its community, the department offers diverse learning activities, and the addition of the bus alleviates financial burdens by eliminating extra costs to town members.

“The bus has been a tremendous resource because it cuts down the cost we must charge our participants,” said Raymond Parks and Recreation Director Joe Crocker. “It allows us to take the transportation cost completely out of our program fees.”

The donated school bus primarily supports the department’s summer camp and winter ski programs.

The idea to donate a van to the food pantry emerged from a collaborative community meeting that addresses issues of homelessness and food insecurity within the school district. This RSU 14 Community Wellness Committee involves representatives from the school district, town officials, and businesses, who collectively brainstormed solutions to tackle these pressing challenges.

“The Community Wellness Committee meets three or four times a year,” Howell said. “It was during one of these meetings that we realized the challenges the food pantry faces when transporting food to shut-ins or to get food from the area stores and food banks. Because they have always supported our students, we thought it was imperative to also support them and their needs.”

Windham’s General Assistance Administrator Rene Daniel said that the Windham Food Pantry has been delivering food to shut-ins that had no means of coming to the pantry, but the donated van will allow the pantry to elevate itself to the next level.

“It will allow us to pick up generous donations from in and out of Windham,” Daniel said. “Also, we can now institute and implement visiting our senior housing communities by using the van, bringing the Windham Food Pantry to them where they reside.”

Daniel expressed his gratitude to the many individuals and organizations that assist the Windham Food Pantry as it works to eliminate food insecurity.

“It is our sincere appreciation to the Windham School Committee, the Windham Superintendent, and Windham Public Works for their dedication to our community,” Daniel said. “And to Marge Govoni for her continued 100 percent support of the Windham Food Pantry/Clothes Closet since its inception. Words are not enough to express our thanks.”

Howell said that the school district hopes that the recent vehicle donation initiative will inspire students with their service-learning ideas as well as nurture an ongoing sense of community partnership, strengthening the bonds between educational institutions and local communities. <

Friday, April 7, 2023

Manchester School students take food insecurity to heart

By Ed Pierce

Like a pebble thrown into a pond, a recent presentation at Manchester School in Windham has created positive ripples that will help make the community stronger.

Some of the Manchester School fourth graders who helped
create and stage a food drive to benefit the Windham Food
Pantry are, from left, Aubrey Eklund, Maddie Talbot,
Ryder Rice, and Ryder Alfred-Smothers.
Back on Jan. 5, Misty Coolidge, a New Gloucester resident and Mrs. Worldwide 2022, shared with Manchester fourth-grade students her message of how everyone can work to help resolve the problem of food insecurity in Windham. Coolidge has dedicated her adult life to fighting hunger and addressing food insecurity following a childhood of relying on food stamps and the WIC program. In speaking about food insecurity and hunger at the school, she read excerpts from the book “We All Stir The Pot: To End Hunger” that she co-authored with Bobbie Bensur, and her appearance was part of a hunger unit with lessons in six different classrooms about equity, scarcity, needs and wants, available resources and food insecurity.

According to Leah Richards, a Manchester School fourth-grade teacher, Coolidge’s words impacted students significantly.

“All of the students who participated in the presentation from Misty were inspired and motivated to make a difference,” Richards said. “Her stories of helping the Good Shepherd Food Bank gave students the idea that they can also help. I believe that hearing her stories of helping others pushed students to think about how they can give back, especially to the local community.”

Richards said that seven students from two classrooms decided to conduct a food drive of their own to do something to help address the problem of hunger in the community.

“Students worked on creating the idea for their food drive during our project week in the middle of February,” Richards said. “When we returned from break on Feb. 27, students began to put their work into action. They worked on gathering donations through March 24.”

She said that participating students made announcements at school, both in the morning and in the afternoon, asking students and staff to bring in donations for the food pantry. They also sent home a note in the school’s Newsline letting families know that the food drive was going on and any donations that were brought in were dropped off in the school lobby, in Richards' room, or in Mrs. Blanchard/Ms. Pierce's room.

The students had established a goal of collecting 50 canned items, but at the end of their food drive, they were shocked and thrilled to see that they surpassed that goal and collected 158 items for donation to the Windham Food Pantry.

During the "Hunger Hits Home" lessons unit at Manchester School, students learned about food insecurity through guest speakers, short stories, and research. For their final projects, Richards said that students were given the opportunity to present their learning and ideas in a format that worked best for their learning style and in a way that allowed them to dive deeper on a concept they found interesting, such as budgeting, giving back, providing the community information around resources, and other ideas, one being a food drive created and run entirely by students.

“I found this project to be important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I think it is insanely important for students to recognize that they can make a difference in the community. We are constantly teaching students to think about how they can help and support one another, and this project really showed that they take that to heart,” Richards said. “Second, I think it is important for students to be able to take charge of their learning and allow their interests and passions to guide them. The fact that a group of students thought that this would be the perfect way to showcase their learning is what gave them the energy to create and hold such a successful food drive. Finally, I think it is important for students to recognize how many people struggle with food insecurity in our community and what resources are available to help these families.”

Students say it was rewarding to be involved in the food drive.

“I wanted to help people who don't have food, because I feel really bad for them and it's not fair for these people,” said fourth grader Aubrey Eklund.

“I wanted to raise resources for people in need,” said fourth grader Ryder Alfred-Smothers.

“I wanted to help with the food drive because it's important for other people to have food too,” said fourth grader Maddie Talbot.

Fourth grader Ryder Rice said that the hardest part of the food drive was getting people on board to do it and donate.

“We should maybe do another food drive at the beginning of next school year,” Rice said. “We should do it again to help others.”

Coolidge said that she’s humbled to play a small part in inspiring Manchester students to help others.

“This is my why. I get asked by so many, why do you do all that you do? This is why. To inspire change, to educate our children on food insecurity, to not 'make fun' of those that don't have what you have, to normalize it because it's never going away,” Coolidge said. “In my travels across the country as former Mrs. USA and now Mrs. Worldwide, food banks are seeing a 50 percent increase in those that have never visited a food bank before. That number is astounding. I hope my book starts a conversation between parents and their kids about the reality of hunger and possibly even prompts the question of how they can help.

“It's clear here that my visit to Manchester School had an impact on these kids and I'm so happy that they took the initiative to give back to their community,” she said. “Truly amazing. I hope that all my visits encourage change in their districts and possibly inspire a Hunger Action Month each year and that they ask me to return to visit.”

Richards said the one thing she wants her students to take away from this experience is that they recognize that they can make a difference.

“Sometimes we forget that these little people have a fire inside them too, and they can use that to create such a change,” Richards said. “I want them to remember the difference and impact that they made at such a young age and continue to use their voice and actions to make the community, and world, a better place. I also want them to be able to recognize that there are resources for them, their neighbors, and their friends to help them if they are in need. We learned a lot about how many people struggle with food insecurity and that there are resources in place to help them.” <

Friday, March 24, 2023

Windham third grader’s fundraiser makes big difference for community

By Matt Pascarella

Windham third-grader Eva Doughty really likes helping people. When the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry visited her class, she became inspired. She wanted to help those in need have food and clothes during the cold winter. She decided to organize a fundraiser and created her own Polar Dip event at Sebago Lake on Tuesday, Jan. 24 where about 25 people attended.

Eva Doughty, left, Harper Maxfield and Troy Doughty hold
up the check from Eva's Polar Dip fundraiser from which 
she was able to donate more than $2,200 to the Windham
Food Pantry and the Windham Clothes Closet during the
Windham Town Council meeting on Tuesday, March 21.
At that event, Doughty and several other students from her neighborhood took the plunge into the icy lake waters.

Through determination and persistence, Doughty was able to raise more than $2,200 for the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry at her Polar Dip.

On Tuesday, March 21 during a Windham Town Council meeting, she presented a check to Collette Gagnon, Windham Social Services Administrative Assistant and operator of the Windham Clothes Closet, and Windham’s General Assistance Manager Rene Daniel.

“I decided to do the Polar Dip because I was always curious what it would feel like to jump into the ice-cold water in the winter,” said Doughty. “I thought it was crazy enough that people would donate to me for doing it.”

In creating the event, she distributed flyers around her neighborhood and Doughty and her family also created a flier that was posted to Facebook from which she received additional donations from her friends and family.

When the donations first started coming in, Doughty said that she felt grateful that people were helping and recalled how was happy she was raising money for a good cause.

Eva’s parents, Chris and Sara Doughty, said it was really great to know that their community was so willing to help other families and support the efforts of their daughter to help those experiencing tough times.

Her parents say that they are very proud of Eva and that she took the initiative to come up with the concept and idea for the Polar Dip and followed through to make an impact in the community. They say she is a thoughtful and generous person with a very kind heart.

All the money she raised was donated directly to the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry and will benefit Windham residents in need.

Gagnon said she gets a lot of requests for items such as milk and eggs and the money raised through the Polar Dip fundraiser will make it easier for the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry to provide these necessities as needed.

“I am totally amazed by the generosity of Eva Doughty wanting to organize this fundraiser,” she said. “She’s a wonderful citizen and a great leader. For a third grader to think of and execute a fundraiser like this makes her ahead of her years.”

Windham Town Councilor Jarrod Maxfield agrees.

“It important to recognize Eva and the other kids because they deserve it for stepping up and doing a fairly difficult thing for such a great cause,” Maxfield said. “A third grader inspired a small group to do a big thing which is an example to all of us in town of how to step up and help your community because that’s what it’s all about.”

Eva Doughty said she’s pleased that people donated to her fundraiser and helped it to become a success.

“I felt really happy that my Polar Dip could help less fortunate families have meals and clothes for the winter that they might not have had otherwise,” she said. “I want to help people the same way every year and I want to get the event bigger and bigger so I can help even more people.” <

Friday, July 22, 2022

Food pantries playing larger role as local economy tightens

Rising inflation and soaring gasoline prices have resulted in
an increasing number of individuals and families seeking
help from the Raymond Food Pantry and the Windham Food
Pantry. The need is compounded by RSU 14 not being able
to provide a summer lunch program this year. Food pantry
donations are being welcomed and more volunteers are 
sought to staff the facilities. COURTESY PHOTO  
By Andrew Wing

Over the last few years, there is no denying that we as a country have faced some incredible economic challenges. And in 2022, we are faced with another hardship, catapulted inflation resulting from soaring gas and food prices that are unlike anything our country has seen in decades. Many families in the towns of Windham and Raymond are experiencing trouble just putting food on the table for their children.

For the past couple of years, the RSU 14 Summer Food Service Program has been an outlet for many parents in alleviating some of the hunger children face because they did not have enough food when school was out for the school year. This was a great program that made a huge difference in our community, but unfortunately this summer there has been no RSU 14 Summer Food Service program.

According to Jeanne Reilly, RSU 14 Director of School Nutrition, there are a lot of reasons for this ranging from COVID-19 waivers that were set to expire to not having enough time to put a plan in place for summer meals, but she said a key reason was one that almost every business has been experiencing as of late, and that was not having enough staff to operate a summer meals program.

Despite not having the RSU 14 Summer Food Service program, Reilly said she is hopeful that the program will be back next year to deliver food to the hungry children in need in Windham and Raymond.

There are still a number of resources available to area families in need, the biggest one being town food pantries in both Windham and Raymond.

The Windham Food Pantry’s hours of operation are by appointment from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, while Raymond’s Food Pantry is open from 4 to 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of every month.

As for donations to the pantries, this year has already been an incredible year following the “Feed the Need” initiative which raised more than $25,000 for distribution to the 11 food pantries in eight Lakes Region towns including Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Sebago, Standish, Raymond and Windham.

One of the big players in the “Feed the Need” initiative is Robin Mullins, the Executive Director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. Mullins has served as the chamber’s executive director for over two years now, and she works closely with our town’s food pantries.

She said that she believes that this summer’s rampant inflation and high gas prices are making the need for food larger than in past years.

"Starting with the pandemic, the need for food has been there,” said Mullins. “But now with inflation and high gas prices, I believe the need is greater than ever.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices across America are now 10 percent higher than in 2021 and that rapid increase is driving many who are food-insecure to visit food banks for help.

Another person who has witnessed a growing rise in food insecurity first-hand is Gary Bibeau of the Raymond Food Pantry.

Bibeau, the volunteer director of the Raymond Food Pantry, was honored with the 2021 Spirit of America award for his above-and- beyond dedication to the food pantry.He has been in charge of the facility since February 2021 and he says he’s has definitely noticed an uptick in the need for food this year because of rising inflation and higher gasoline prices.

“Yes, the rising inflation and soaring gas prices have had an impact,” said Bibeau. “I see more and more new people coming into the food pantry by the day.”

Bibeau suggests that any families in need of food for themselves and their children should simply come to the Raymond Food Pantry to get food provided they are Raymond residents and meet the state’s income levels.

He said that the biggest necessity at the food pantry currently is the need for additional volunteers to help, so if you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering, do not hesitate to reach out and call the Raymond Food Pantry at 207-655-4334.

The Windham Food Pantry, managed by Collette Gagnon, is also eager to receive more donations and volunteers, so if you interested in either, call them at 207-892-1931. <

Friday, February 5, 2021

Windham Middle School restocks food pantry shelves

Windham Middle School students collected a total of 651
items to assist in restocking the Windham Food Pantry after
a busy holiday season. The seventh grade at WMS amassed
the largest number of items collected during the initiative.

By Elizabeth Richards   

Windham Middle School has a history of promoting community service and giving back to the community. Recently, the school provided 651 items to help restock the Windham Food Panty after their busy holiday season.

Debbie Hall, attendance secretary, receptionist and “jack of all trades” at WMS, said that the food drive is an annual event. Hall, who has worked at the school for 22 years, said the student council used to head up the food drive, but handed it over to Lee Leroy, a beloved health teacher at the school, about four years ago. Mrs. Leroy passed away two years ago, and Hall said the school has conducted the annual food drive in her memory since then.

The year Mrs. Leroy passed away was the largest collection, with more than 1,000 items, she said, but this year was one of the biggest collections they’ve done, despite the pandemic.

There was a friendly competition between the grades, with the seventh grade emerging victorious.

“It was close. Every day it changed,” Hall said, “But a couple of big donations came in for the seventh grade as the competition drew to a close. We’ve never had one this neck and neck, so it was good, but at the last minute the seventh grade really pulled ahead.”
Although collecting food was more challenging this year, because of the pandemic and students only being physically in school a couple of days per week, Hall said there was more participation.

Parents of remote students brought items in, community members without kids in the school participated, and the PTA donated $50 to the food pantry as part of the drive.

Hall said she stressed that they were working to replenish the food pantry because it was one of their busiest seasons ever. A specific list of things that the pantry needed most was available for families and community members.

“I always call and ask what they need, because otherwise you get 500 boxes of pasta,” she said.

This year those needs included condiments, pasta sauce, jelly, paper towels, wipes, and certain vegetables, and that’s what the students came through with, Hall said.

“We hit the specific targets that they were low on.,” she said.

Windham Food Pantry officials are grateful for the assistance.
“It’s wonderful what the middle school students did to help replenish food items that are in high demand at the Windham Food Pantry, even pet food,” said Colette Gagnon, Social Services Administrative Assistant for the Town of Windham, who runs the Windham Food Pantry. “It’s great to see the younger citizens of Windham take great concern for those in need of food security.”

Drew Patin, WMS principal, said that connection and contributions to the community are part of the vision being developed for RSU 14, including events like the food drive.

“For students that participate it’s really around feeling like they are contributing to the community,” he said.

Hall said that the school does other service events throughout the year as well.

During the holiday season, for instance, they helped 33 families at the school, providing a warm blanket, hat and mittens for each child, along with items from their wish lists.

In the spring, she said, they hope to do something with a local animal shelter or possibly even the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals on River Road. <

Friday, December 18, 2020

Help available as need for local heating assistance increases

The nonprofit organization Windham Neighbors
Helping Neighbors provides one-time emergency
heating fuel assistance to Windham and Raymond
residents, and to direct residents to available
long term resources while promoting a culture
of neighbors helping neighbors locally.
By Lorraine Glowczak

At a recent Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors board meeting, it came to the members’ attention that they have had several new requests this year for heating assistance. Their concern for and offer to those individuals, and others who are facing financial challenges, is to provide more information to the community that help is available in various ways.

“Several new people who made request from us had no idea about applying for LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program),” said Deb McAfee, WNHN Board and Community Service Committee member. “Some people who had reached out to never had to pay the bills before and were unaware where and how to begin.”

McAfee said that WNHN can help individuals who request heating needs while they apply for LIHEAP or are waiting for their appointment for LIHEAP approval. 

Briefly, Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a 501c3 nonprofit, provides one-time emergency heating fuel assistance to Windham and Raymond residents, and help direct individuals to appropriate long-term resources and promote a culture of neighbors helping neighbors.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program through the Department of Health and Human Services. The program provides money to help low-income homeowners and renters pay for heating costs and they assist in paying the heating bills. There are income guidelines for eligibility, and applications are accepted from Aug. 1 through April 30 each year. Contact information for LIHEAP is 1-800-452-4668.

Residents in need can also contact local Windham officials for a LIHEAP application including Rene Daniel, Windham’s General Assistance Administrator. He is available to help with the application process and to answer any questions one may have. He can be reached at 207-892-1906.

Daniel, who also oversees the Windham Food and Clothes Pantries located at 377 Gray Road in Windham, said they have seen a minor spike with the need for services since the pandemic began, including the need for LIHEAP applications

“We’ve seen a small uptick in recent months,” Daniel said. “And we are there to provide the gaps and carryovers from local, state and federal aid. All people need to do is to make an appointment with me and I will help walk them through the LIHEAP application process and we will support everyone who walks through the door. Even if they are not eligible for receiving LIHEAP funding, we will find a way to help in some form.”

Daniel said he is very grateful for local organizations and individuals who give so that others may live in a healthy way and keep warm for the winter.

“I am so lucky to be a part of Windham,” Daniel said. “People in this community are just so giving. I
am especially thankful for Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Once a person applies for federal heating assistance, there is a waiting period, and it is possible their heat may be turned off until they get approved. To prevent this from happening, all I have to do is call Neighbors Helping Neighbors, and they are there to help us fill in the gaps between services.”

The services provided by the Windham General Assistance Program also include food and clothes. Currently, because of the pandemic, the food and clothes pantries are open by appointment only.  

“We ask that people call in and we will prepare the bags of groceries they need,” Daniel said. “Once they arrive, we require people to remain in their vehicles with masks on and we bring out the bags of food and place them in the trunk of their cars. We are getting pretty fast at this drive-up service. In fact, I think we can do it in less than a minute or two – all the while adhering to CDC guidelines for social distancing.”

The eligibility requirements at the Windham Food and Clothes pantries are quite simple.

“We are only one of two food pantries in Maine whose only requirement is proof of Windham residency,” Daniel said. “That is all we ask. We do not ask for anything else.”

The Windham Food Pantry also offers a once-a-month drive through program for older citizens in the area. The next drive thru program for those 60 and older is from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

The following is list of resources available for those who are facing financial challenges in the Raymond and Windham communities (heating assistance or otherwise).

Town of Windham:

·         Rene Daniel/Windham Food and Clothes Pantries and heating assistance: 207-892-1906

·         Windham Town Clerk, Linda Morrell: 207-892-3507

·         Judy Vance of Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors: 207-892-1900.

·         St. Ann’s Essentials Pantry, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church located at 40 Windham Center Road in Windham: Serves families by providing personal and household items that cannot be purchased by an EBT debit card. For more information, call Deacon Wendy Rozene at 207-232-0841.

Town of Raymond:

·         General Assistance Administrator Jennie Silverblade: (207) 655-4742 x 124

·         Raymond Food Pantry: Lake Region Baptist Church, 1273 Roosevelt Trail in Raymond, call 207-428-3637.

·         Town Manager’s Office: Don Willard at (207) 655-4742 x131

·         Raymond Village Community Church at 207-655-7749.

Towns of Raymond, Windham and Standish;

·         Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing: Although unable to assist directly with heating needs, they collaborate with Window Dressers – an organization that improves the warmth and comfort of homes, lowering heating costs that reduces CO2 emissions by producing low-cost insulating window inserts that function as interior-mounted storm windows. The local Fuller Center’s mission is to serve older adults who wish to remain in their home by providing home repairs or renovations and yard work with a “pay it forward” mindset. For more information, call 207-838-8378 or send an email to <

Knights of Columbus grateful for public generosity during pandemic

By Ed Pierce

Real generosity exists and the Windham Knights of Columbus have witnessed it in person.

Over the course of the past seven years, the Knights of Columbus have hosted the popular “Claws for a Cause” Lobster Dinner each October to assist in raising money for the Windham Food Pantry and through that event, the Knights have collected and donated on average about $2,500 to the food pantry since its inception.

But because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Knights of Columbus had to scrub this year’s annual fundraiser when the need for financial assistance for the food pantry was greater than ever.

In late October, the Knights of Columbus appealed to the public to step up and help out by contributing voluntary tax-deductible donations to the organization so that they would be able to offer some help to the food pantry.

According to Dave Spada, District Deputy and Maine Regional Training Director for the Maine State Council of the Knights of Columbus, the help they so desperately sought did indeed arrive.

Spada said that more than 100 people from throughout the Lakes Region made donations to the effort.

“The Knights had an initial goal of $2,500 and we kick-started the goal with a donation of $1,000,” he said.

Because of the significant donations coming in from the public, in November the Knights of Columbus were able to present the Windham Food Pantry with a check in the amount of $4,350, the largest private donation ever received by the food pantry to date.

“The donation enables families in need to receive food throughout the holiday season,” Spada said. We are humbled by the response from the community and we thank you for your support.

The Windham Knights of Columbus is an organization of Catholic men who lead, serve, protect and defend in the community. They share a desire to be better husbands, fathers, sons, neighbors, and role models and to put charity and community first.

The Knights of Columbus organization was founded in 1882 in Connecticut as a fraternal benefit society and remains true to its founding principles of charity, unity, and fraternity to this very day.

They remain committed to rendering mutual aid and assistance to the sick, disabled and needy members of the community and to promote intellectual fellowship through educational, charitable, religious, social welfare, war relief and public relief work.

Windham’s Knights of Columbus chapter at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church is one of more than 14,000 councils and 1.8 million members throughout America, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan.

The Windham Food Pantry, 8 School Road, Windham, is open year-round to Windham residents with proof of residency. It provides food monthly to Windham residents in need of assistance.

For more information about the Windham Food Pantry, call 207-892-1907.<

Friday, December 4, 2020

Year-round charitable giving more important than ever during holidays

Collette Gagnon, Social Service Administrative
Assistant at the Windham Food Pantry, accepts
a Thanksgiving check from the Lake Region
Fraternal Order of Eagles (FOE) in the amount
of $885. In December, the organization will
sponsor students at the Katahdin program for
Christmas. Each student will be given presents
off their request list, approved by the school,
totaling $50. SUBMITTED PHOTO    
By Lorraine Glowczak

Whether it is toys, turkeys or time - there is something about the holidays that motivates us to give of ourselves and be there for those who face many struggles. It matters not if it is karma or being of service that innately motivates humans, the fact is – the holiday ignites the need to serve.

For some organizations, the inspiration to offer necessary life sustaining gifts 365 days a year is a part of their everyday mission and purpose.

It is true that there are a many individuals and establishments give all year and those works go unseen and there are those who prefer no recognition.

However, other organizations rely on community support to provide the much-needed services they provide to families and individuals all year long.

These groups that work quietly behind the scenes include St. Ann’s Essential Pantry, Lakes Region Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Windham and Raymond Food Pantries.

St. Ann’s Essential Pantry

For approximately five years, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church at 40 Windham Center Road in Windham, has been serving families by providing personal and household items that cannot be purchased by an EBT debit card. The pantry also provides commodities that are not available at local food pantries.

“We provide personal hygiene and cleaning products that are acceptable to donate and are not provided by local food pantries, like liquid laundry detergents and liquid deodorants,” Deacon Wendy Rozene, of St. Ann’s said. “Toilet paper is essential, especially now during the pandemic when it is cleared off the shelves. Hand lotion is another needed item now that people are washing their hands and using hand sanitizer more frequently.”

Other much needed items include: Shampoos, conditioners, bars of soap, stick deodorant, paper towels and hand lotion to name just a few important everyday items. Toothpaste and toothbrushes, although an abundant item at the moment are still being accepted and will be put to use.

The pantry, which serves over 100 families, with about 25 to 30 being served at a given time, is open the last Saturday of every month from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. During non-pandemic times, families and individuals were able to select the items they needed in the lower level of the church; however, the pantry has made special accommodations to adhere to Maine CDC guidelines.

“We now bag items separately and have them prepared as people drive up to the door, remain in their car with masks on and we put the bags in the trunk of the vehicle,” Rozene said. 

The pantry is open to all people from Windham, Raymond, Casco, Standish and the lakes region. The
first time they come they need proof of residency such as a CMP bill with their name and address on it. That is all that is required.

Rozene said that the Essentials Pantry collaborates with both the Windham Food Pantry and Faith Lutheran Church, also of Windham which helps keep the pantry stocked and running.

“There are times we have a lot of food donated to us which we can’t easily store,” Rozene said. “So, we give some of that to the Windham Food Pantry and the toiletry items they can’t give out, they give to us. It is a win-win situation.”

Rozene also said that Faith Lutheran Church, at 988 Roosevelt Trail, has been contributing monthly stipends and volunteers for the past couple of years.

“It is important to mention that we’ve have received generous financial donations as well as workers from Faith Lutheran Church to help us distribute the much-needed items each month. We do appreciate their contributions,” Rozene said.

Food, essential items and monetary donations can be made in person or sent via snail mail to: St. Ann’s Essential Pantry, 40 Windham Center Road in Windham. If delivered in person, the office is open Monday through Thursday from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Lakes Region Fraternal Order of Eagles (FOE) #4352

Located at 456 Roosevelt Trail location, FOE #4252 is a part of an international, non-profit organization that was established in Seattle, WA in 1898 to “unite in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice and equality. To make human life more desirable by lessening its ills and promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.” The mission is to serve others, as often as possible, all year long.

FOE #4352 is exceptionally motivated to do what they can to provide help for those in need throughout the Lakes Region. Although they provide help in many ways to individuals and organizations all year round, the holiday season is a perfect time to introduce the community to FOE #4352 as well as promoting the importance of giving year-round.

The organization gives a monthly financial donation to local food pantries and they made their Thanksgiving donation of $885 to the Windham Food Pantry on Monday, Nov. 23. Even though it is a season of giving, the trip to the food pantry is a way to ceremonially show their appreciation by presenting their check in person.

But their deeds for the holiday season are not quite complete.

“Although The Eagles will continue their monthly donation to the pantry in December, we will also be sponsoring all the students at the Katahdin program for Christmas,” FOE #4352 President Frank Farinelli said. “Each student will be given presents off their request list totaling $50. We are also collecting food and winter clothing for programs at the high school.”

Although FOE #4352 is a membership-based organization that raises funds and distributes their gifts privately, they welcome financial donations from the public, of which 100% is distributed toward their gift giving efforts.

To assist FOE #4352 in their efforts or to learn more about the organization, contact Frank Farinelli by email at or by phone at 207-310-4197.

To learn more about the Katahdin Program, an alternative educational curriculum located at 406 Gray Road in Windham, contact Program Director, Craig Haims at (207) 893-7377.

The Windham and Raymond Food Pantries

The Raymond Food Pantry, 1273 Roosevelt Trail in Raymond, is located in the building of the Lake Region Baptist Church. They are open the second and fourth Thursday of every month from 4 to 6 p.m. The return of banana boxes, used to carry food with, will help to keep costs down. For more information, contact the pantry at 207-310-1419.

The Windham Food Pantry, located at 377 Gray Road in Windham, is open to Windham residents with proof of residency. Residents are provided with food on a monthly basis and are asked to call and schedule an appointment. Food and non-food donations are accepted Monday - Thursday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monetary donations are accepted 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays at the Town Manager's Office or by mail at 8 School Road, Windham. <

Friday, September 25, 2020

Sticky Bud Farms makes generous donation to Windham Food Pantry

By Ed Pierce

There was a time when David Whitten, the owner of Windham’s Sticky Bud Farms, needed to rely on a food pantry to survive and years later he’s shown his gratitude and generosity with a large donation to the Windham Food Pantry.

On Sept. 14, Whitten and three Sticky Bud employees dropped off more than $2,000 worth of food and non-perishables in dozens of boxes for the food pantry. The money to purchase the food came from a donation jar set up near the Sticky Bud cash register which was then doubled when matched by Whitten.

Sticky Bud Farms employees and owner David
Whitten dropped off more than $2,000 worth
of food and non-perishables in a generous 
donation for the Windham Food Pantry on
Sept. 14.  COURTESY PHOTO    
“At one time in my life when I broke my neck, I had to rely on the food pantry,” Whitten said. “I’ve been there, and I know how hard it can be sometimes.”

Operating a successful business in Windham, Whitten said he wanted to repay the kindness that residents of the town have shown to him.

“Personally, I feel that giving back to the community is important,” he said. “And right now, more than ever because of the pandemic, there is certainly a growing need for the food pantry and an increasing number of our friends and neighbors in need of help.”

Rather than use the cash register jar for tips, the six employees of Sticky Bud Farms chose to use what they collected to purchase food items that the Windham Food Pantry was sorely in need of.

“The staff gave up their tips because they felt it was important and we wanted to include them in our spirit of giving,” Whitten said. “We feel that we’re an integral part of this community working with as many cancer patients as we do and this donation shows that our staff is committed to the health and well-bring of everyone in Windham.”

The Windham Food Pantry is open to any Windham resident with proof of residency and residents are provided with food on an every month basis.

Food and non-food donations are accepted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Monetary donations are accepted from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays at the Windham Town Manager’s Office at the Windham Town Hall.

The donation from Sticky Bud Farms followed the official wish list of the Windham Food Pantry but went above and beyond, Whitten said.

“There were so many boxes, it was just amazing to see it all,” he said. “There were soups, beans, cookies, crackers, chili and much, much more and the four of us that went over before work to drop it off came away impressed with how organized they are at the food pantry. We were all so humbled by that experience that we’re going to do it again soon.”

 Whitten said Sticky Bud Farms has ordered 100 food boxes from Hannaford which will be donated to the Windham Food Pantry for those in need for Thanksgiving.

“And we’re going to be collecting toys at Christmastime again this year for Toys for Tots,” he said. <

Friday, August 7, 2020

'Operation Summer Snacks' establishes new record for Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish

"Operation Summer Snacks,” an initiative of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Windham, annually collects food for children in need who receive bags of food from the “Backpackers” program during the school year but, in many cases, do not have the snacks during the summer.

After collecting more than 2,500 snack items last year, organizers of “Operation Summer Snacks” didn’t know what to expect this year with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting communities across the state and country.

Volunteers for Our Lady of Perpetual
 Help's 'Operation Summer Snacks'
gather items in the Walmart parking
lot to be donated to the Windham Food
Pantry. The program set a new record
this year in the number of food items
donated by area residents.
“In this time of uncertainty, we didn’t know whether this program would work out of our house instead of being based in the parish,” said Jill Russell-Morey, a parish catechetical leader who helped create the initiative in 2016.

Gratefully, it has.

“We have collected and donated 3,853 snack items which surpassed our donation number last year by over 1,000. This is incredible,” Russell-Morey said. “All of those tiny bags of pretzels, crackers, fruit snacks, juice pouches, granola bars, and fruit cups turned into an amazing offering to the food pantry.”

“Operation Summer Snacks” works with Windham Food Pantry to deliver the donations to those in need. Through the program, each child receives various individual-sized snacks like raisins, crackers, fruit cups, granola bars, and other items.

One big change this year is that the food pantry requested that the donations not be bagged by the volunteers, which enabled the operation to be conducted by Russell-Morey, her family, and friends out of her house.

“They want all original packages which allows for less handling of the packages and easier storage,” she said.

In addition, the generosity of the community shone through with checks, cash, and Venmo donations. One parishioner even had a large box of snacks sent directly to Jill’s house from Sam’s Club.

“Our young friends in this community have reaped the benefits of this generosity and we are so thankful for the people who responded to this call for what they have to provide people with what they need,” Russell-Morey said.

“Operation Summer Snacks” has entered its final week for 2020 and anyone wishing to still contribute money or snacks toward this initiative should email Russell-Morey directly at

The last day for the initiative will be Monday, Aug. 10. <


Friday, June 5, 2020

Free Monday Meal program is still going strong, providing food to local pantries

Olley Klein of Gray, left, said thathe has been coming
to the Monday Meal program since its inception and
finds its fellowship is just as important as the
food the program serves
By Lorraine Glowczak

The concept of a free Monday meal officially began by members of the Windham Hill United Church of Christ (UCC) in 1998.
The intent was to provide free nutritious meals for those who experienced food insecurity on Monday evenings. Hoping to receive help from other area churches, Windham Hill UCC reached out to other congregations to see if there would be an interest in joining their efforts on a needed service to the community.
It was not long after the request was made that more than five area churches were soon on board, offering weekly free meals – and as such, the Food and Fellowship, Inc. a non-profit ecumenical organization was established.
The organization has sponsored the free Monday Meal program in the Lakes Region since 1999, serving between 50 to 70 guests every Monday evening.
Although the program has not been able to provide free in person Monday Meals for over two months due to the pandemic, Food and Fellowship, Inc. is still going strong.
“We are still here, although we can’t get together in person right now,” said Dan Wheeler of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church and President of Food and Fellowship, Inc. “We thought it was important to continue giving food for those in need, so we have opted to donate towards area food pantries.”
The organization has recently donated at total of $1,750 to food pantries of surrounding towns that have contributed financially or otherwise to Food and Fellowship, Inc. “We have given $250 to Standish Food Pantry, $250 to the Raymond Food Pantry and $1,250 to the Windham Food Pantry,” Wheeler said. with most organizations and individuals, the pandemic has created an opportunity to think outside the box, being innovative to meet missions and goals.
“What we realized when the social distancing began is that we did not have a system in place in circumstances such as these to let people know what we were doing,” said Wheeler. “Although we do have a Facebook page and a website to provide that information, there are some people we serve who either do not have access to a computer or internet or simply do not use social media as a form of staying connected. This is where we have decided to develop a phone and email list so we can update individuals who join Monday Meals. We plan to do this going forward.”
But just as the food is an important part of the Monday Meal Program’s mission, providing a source of social interaction plays a very important role, too.
In a previous interview for an article last summer highlighting the 20th anniversary of free Monday Meals, Olley Klein from Gray shared his thoughts about getting together with others on a weekly basis.
“My wife died in 1991 and I have been coming here almost since the beginning,” he said. “Not so much for the food - which I enjoy – but more for the social aspect of it. In fact, I think I spend more time in the churches of Windham than I do at home in Gray.”
Although it is unsafe to gather at this point, the Monday Meal program will be meeting in person when the threat of contracting COVID-19 is diminished and is safe for the guests to gather.
“We will be back to meeting in person someday, hopefully soon,” Wheeler said. “Once schools are in session then it is possible that we will meet again. However, 90 percent of our board members and meal participants are at risk and we must make sure the facilities where the meals take place meet social distancing requirements. Although there is much to consider for the safety of all, we will be back!”
When the program is back in session, the meal sites will continue as normal. September through May, the meal sites are located at: First Monday at North Windham Union Church, second Monday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, third and fourth Mondays at Windham Hill United Church of Christ and on those rare fifth Mondays - at the Standish Congregational Church. During the summer months (June, July and August), the meal sites are: First four Mondays at St. Ann's Episcopal Church and the fifth Monday at the Standish Congregational Church. Meals begin promptly at 5:30 p.m. but guests begin arriving as early as 4:30 p.m. to reserve a spot and enjoy appetizers and fellowship. The meals traditionally end at about 6 p.m.
Funding for this program is donated by area churches. The Town of Windham also donates generously on a yearly basis.
If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the Food and Fellowship program, you can do so by sending a check or money order to Food and Fellowship, c/o Mark Stokes, Treasurer,  P.O. Box 911  Windham, ME  04062.
For more information about Monday Meals, contact Wheeler and Food and Fellowship, Inc via email at: Like and follow them on them on Facebook
or check out their website at:

Friday, December 20, 2019

Windham Clothes Closet: A hidden gem offering resources to many communities

The Windham Clothes Closet is located at 377 Gray Road
(Route 202) in the same building as the Windham Food Pantry.
The building sits between the Police/Fire Station and the
Windham Community Garden.
By Lorraine Glowczak

This story began as an ordinary everyday text message early Monday, December 9 from area Windham community volunteer and RSU14 Board Member, Marge Govoni. “Call me when you have a chance. I think I have a great story idea for you to write about.”

I called her. “I wonder if you might want to highlight the Windham Clothes Closet,” she began. “It seems very few people are aware of its existence and I think more people need to know about it.”

I took note of her suggestion and believed it might make a great story for our end-of-year/Christmas Windham Eagle newspaper edition. But that is when the ordinary transformed into a magical Christmas experience 24 hours later.

It was Wednesday, December 11 when another Windham area community volunteer walked into the Windham Eagle newspaper office. “George Bartlett is here to talk with you,” Time4Printing and Windham Eagle Office Manager, Tricia Griffin said to me through the speaker on the office phone. “He has a story idea you might be interested in writing.” walk downstairs to the reception area and greeted Bartlett, who is a board member of the Sebago Lakes Rotary Club and owner of Busy Bee Laundry. “I have a great story for you,” he said. “You know the Windham Resource Center, right?” he asked.

Remembering the early conversation with Govoni, I asked, “Is it the Clothes Closet you have in mind?”

Bartlett appeared surprised, hesitated and then said, “Why, yes.” as in ‘how did you know’ but quickly continued. “You do realize many people in the area are unaware that we have a Clothes Closet in town where people can get clothes and other items for free?”

The Christmas magic of the story is that Govini and Bartlett, although known to one another, were not acting in collaboration to spread the word about the Windham Clothes Closet. It was all unplanned, with each not knowing that the other shared the same message.

Bartlett explained that he had just come from the Closet. “Every three to six months, I take clothes that are left at the laundromat and deliver them to the Windham Clothes Closet. And some of the clothes are really nice. But thing is, very few people know about this small-town gem.” Bartlett does his best to reach out to his customers, but often – there is no contact information and he eventually runs out of space to save clothing left behind.

With Christmas spirit in mind and intent on spreading the joy Govoni and Bartlett instigated, I visited the Windham Clothes Closet last Thursday and spoke to closet volunteer, Pat Vigue.

She has volunteered at the Closet for approximately 12 years and eagerly welcomed me to the downstairs store, located in the same building as the Windham Food Pantry, 377 Gray Road. It was filled to the brim, but very neatly organized with not only infant, children and adult clothing but also shoes, blankets, afghans, coats, curtains, books, sheets, decorative pillows and much more.

While giving me a tour, I asked Vigue why she thought many people were unaware of the Windham Clothes Closet. “There are potentially many reasons,” she began, “But a couple of major explanations might be that it is not very well advertised – but worse yet - people are embarrassed to come in. Also, the hours are not necessarily conducive for working parents.”  

Currently, the closet hours are every Monday and Tuesday (except holidays) from 10 a.m. to noon. Govoni, who is also on the Human Advisory Committee appointed by the Town Council stated that there was an attempt a couple of years ago to add hours, accommodating those who work on Monday and Tuesday. “For a while, we opened one Saturday a month and one evening during the week, but no one visited during those hours. However,” Govoni continued. “If there were requests to expand hours today – we would definitely consider and accommodate as much as possible.”

Rene Daniels, the town’s General Assistance Coordinator concurred. “We will do our best to accommodate the needs of those who require clothes, mittens, coats, shoes and other important necessities.”

Daniels also stated that both the Windham Food Pantry and the Clothes Closet are hidden gems and realized that concept even more during the construction of the new maintenance building when the trash/recycling containers were moved to the Windham Resource Center’s Parking lot.

“I was amazed when the receptacles were relocated to our parking lot. I don’t know how many people told us they didn’t know the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet existed. Having the trash bins moved to our location during the construction was probably the best advertisement we received.”

The Windham Clothes Closet, which is visited by 100 people per month, is available for everyone, not only those who live in Windham. “We also provide free clothing for the other surrounding towns,” Vigue said. “This includes Westbrook, Gray, Gorham, Raymond, Standish, and other towns that touch the boundary of Windham.”

Vigue also said that the clothes are free and there are no questions asked regarding financial status. “We do ask that people sign in just so we can get a count of who is using our services, but that is it.”

Although the clothes and other items are free for the taking, it is requested that an individual take on an as needed basis, remembering there are others who have needs as well.

For those who may be hesitant about visiting the Windham Clothes Closet, both Vigue and Govoni offer words of encouragement. “This is not necessarily a place for those who are in dire need,” Govoni said. “The clothes closet is useful for those in temporary and extenuating circumstances such as changing jobs. Using the closet should not negatively reflect on any one individual.”

As for the Christmas spirit, Govoni suggested that Vigue was most likely the best giving and loving individual on the planet – and thus a quiet and humble assistant to Santa. “Pat goes out of her way to help people,” she said. “Pat will take requests and accommodate those who are in need. In fact, Pat epitomizes the word ‘volunteer’. She has passion for what she does and without her dedication to at the Windham Clothes Closet, the town (and surrounding areas), possibly there would not be this resource available.”

Vigue’s response is humble. “We also have another dedicated volunteer. Her name is Suzanne and she should be honored, too.”

The Windham Clothes Closet is an example of the Christmas magic in full swing and is a gift giving service to everyone - the whole year long.

For more information or for special requests, call 207-892-7192.