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Agape Food Pantry needs community support

November 10, 2011
OSSIPEE— Three people make regular monthly, and much appreciated, cash donations to Agape Food Pantry in Ossipee in the amounts of $15, $50, and $100. If others would consider doing the same, it would help the Pantry meet the growing need of feeding the hungry in Ossipee and surrounding towns, according to Pantry Director Kevin Straughan.

"It takes a lot to run this machine and it's the small, consistent gifts that really count," said Straughan.

Straughan, along with his wife Janna, has operated the Pantry, the second largest in Carroll County, for 12 years. Food and toiletry donations are, of course, appreciated throughout the year. If folks could make a choice, he said, to sacrifice just one cup of coffee a week and donate $10 a month to the Pantry, said Straughan, that money would go a long way towards providing food and other items to the needy in the area. With cash donations, the Straughans are able to make bulk purchases and stretch the dollars a lot farther than the average consumer could do at the grocery store.

While the number of resources utilized in the past to help the Pantry stock its shelves are become fewer and fewer, the need is growing. The Pantry used to be one beneficiary of the Rochester Scouting for Food annual food collection event and one beneficiary of the Mt. Washington Valley food collection event. Needs have risen in both of those areas, said Straughan, so Agape Pantry will no longer receive food from either program.

In addition to the daily amount of food given out from the Pantry's West Ossipee location, the Pantry also passes out holiday baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, said Straughan, the Pantry expects to put together and distribute 250 Thanksgiving baskets complete with a turkey and all the fixings for a holiday meal.

In the past, the state food bank would allow pantry operators to take or purchase as much food as needed to stock the pantry shelves. This year because the need is so great, said Straughan, NH Food Bank has to restrict the amount of Thanksgiving items to three cases to each pantry during the month of November. Straughan said he will be able to get 250 turkeys from NH Food Bank and will have fresh potatoes and some canned vegetables to add to the baskets. There is a great need this year for the public's help to provide other food items to fill the baskets such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, pie crust and pie filling. Straughan said the Pantry has gathered less than half of the food items needed so far to fill the baskets. And looking ahead, it will be time to solicit donations for the Christmas food baskets very soon as well.

Donations for the Thanksgiving baskets are needed by Nov. 18 and can be dropped off at the Agape Food Pantry located at Ossipee Valley Bible Church on Route 16 in West Ossipee on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. To make other arrangements or for more information, the Pantry telephone number is 539-4456.

The Pantry thrift store, which operates on the same property as the Pantry, has been generating enough money to keep the Pantry lights on and provide for insurance, gasoline to drive back and forth to NH Food Bank in Manchester, and other essentials to keep the Pantry running, said Straughan. Unwanted clothing and household items can be dropped off anytime in the drop box in the Ossipee Valley Bible Church parking lot.

The Straughans have purchased the former Pine Tree Plaza building across from Pizza Barn on Route 16 in West Ossipee. The plan is to expand both the Pantry and thrift store and house them under the same roof at this new location. Asked about the building renovation project, Straughan said the project has been delayed and help is needed from area contractors. He is hoping an electrician and a plumber will donate their time and professional expertise to supervise and approve work that needs to be done to the building. He said he has plenty of volunteers willing to get their hands dirty to get the project completed but none with the certifications to oversee the project. Anyone interested in helping to get the Pantry and thrift store up and running is asked to call either the Pantry or Straughan's cell phone at (603) 677-6826.

The Straughans have continued to serve their community, remaining upbeat and counting on their faith in God to keep moving forward with their calling to help their neighbors.

"There, but by the grace of God go I," said Straughan.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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