Many non-profits are doing honorable and hard work to fight hunger and fulfill humanitarian needs. (I am actively working with such organizations to help this cause.) There is no denying it takes time to get necessary approvals and government funding - time we don't necessarily have.
Therefore, I have been self-funding my own efforts to bring safe and "germ-free" meals--made with love--to my neighbors within these vulnerable communities. In brown paper bags, I include a message of hope, a sandwich, apple sauce, and needed personal hygiene products, so they and their families can stay healthy, strong, and maintain hope throughout this difficult time we are all facing.
As I am also temporarily out of work, I could use your support to help get additional needed supplies so I can continue to make a difference in our community.
Thank you for whatever you can do to help me with my vision. I delivered 25 meals today and the residents were beyond grateful. I'd like to be able to do it again tomorrow and the day after.
Love to you and your families,
While I was going door-to-door delivering the above meals and letters of hope, I noticed the need in our Princeton community was vast and expanded to local businesses. As I began developing meaningful relationships with our neighbors in need, they would discus their needs for hygiene products and other essential items.
The next day I went to McCaffrey's in Princeton Shopping Center and asked if they'd consider being my first Neighbors' Business. They said yes! I began prepackaging bags of products (prices ranging from $5 to $20) with the same message of hope for customers to add-on to their purchases at checkout.
In the first week partnering with our local McCaffreys, Princeton neighbors like you bought over 700 bags! I picked up those bags each morning and delivered several I knew would benefit our immobile neighbors in need.
I knew as a lone-wolf I'd soon have more products than room for said products in my spacious car, so I called Ross Wishnick, Founder of SHUPP, and he proposed a storefront idea. 3 days later with Ross' introduction to Studio Hillier's incredibly generous staff, we opened our stylish garage doors to the public at their location at 190 Witherspoon Street where we service our most vulnerable community members.
That aforementioned supply of 700 bags was depleted within our first hour and a half being open, forcing us to have to close early (normal operating hours at the Free Store/Tienda Gratis are M W F 12-2pm). It was an overwhelming success day 1.
Since we've been open, lines of people consistently go around the block (where people wait to be serviced while observing proper social distancing protocol). On average we assist 85 neighbors a day.
The 2nd week open, I was able to start offering our Neighbors' Meals. The buy 1 (for you), buy 1 (for a neighbor in need) to help continue to bolster our local Princeton businesses while simultaneously helping those in need.
Local Greek in their first few days as one of our Neighbors' Businesses, sold an extra 40 meals thanks to the generosity of neighbors like you. These meals were then picked up by our neighbors in need - all of whom were truly touched and grateful to feel connected to you in a time of isolation. When they sit down to enjoy their meals, they'll be reading our message and know you were thinking of them and they'll be thinking of you.
Now, we have over 15 Neighbors' Businesses! The following local restaurants are participating in our buy (for you), buy 1 (for your neighbor in need): Local Greek, Jammin' Crepes, The Bent Spoon, Small World, D'angelo, La Mezzaluna, Milk & Cookies, PJs Pancake House, Trattoria Procaccini, Tortugas, and several others we'll be announcing this week.
We also have Labyrinth Books, JaZams, and Spouts Flowers participating, so as your shopping online, consider adding a little something extra for someone in need who might be celebrating their child's birthday in isolation and not have the resources for gift-giving.
Thanks to your donations (that directly go to support the store operations, help fund supplies such as bags, pens, ink for messages etc., and allow for my full tank of gas needed to make delivery rounds), your belief in me, and your support, my vision has become a reality. Many of you don't know me personally, and my heart is warm knowing you believe in my cause and care to see me continue to help people in our community.
As Governor Murphy begins to slowly reopen New Jersey, I plan to help our neighbors in need find work, leveraging the valued relationships I've been fortunate to make with our local business owners - many of whom had to lighten up their staffing as a result of Covid-19. Hopefully as we continue to shop, buy, and eat locally through this initiative, more business will be created and so, too, will jobs become available, thereby decreasing food insecurity post pandemic and over time.
The community support is overwhelming. Without you, I would not be able to feel the benefits and see the results of this rewarding effort. Thank you for your neighborly kindness, 08540! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, truly.
All my love to you and your families,
A neighbor thanks you for shopping locally and adding-on these books to your purchase at Labyrinth Books!
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