The 1 Percent Solution: Norwich’s 19-Day Effort Raises Thousands of Dollars, Thousands of Pounds of Food
Norwich residents, from left, Peter Brink, Mary Otto, Susan Brink and David Otto, laugh over soup lunch at Norwich’s First Congregational Church during yesterday's fundraiser. Valley News — Elijah Nouvelage Purchase photo reprints »
Marc Dixon, left, and Melissa Horwitz, both of Norwich, get rung up by Shannon Edson, of Hanover, at Dan & Whit’s in Norwich on Saturday. Many local businesses give 1 percent of their sales from Dec. 1-19 to The Haven, a homeless shelter in White River Junction. Valley News — Elijah Nouvelage Purchase photo reprints »
Shirts with the “19 Days of Norwich” logo are for sale at Dan & Whit’s, which organized the seasonal benefit. Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage Purchase photo reprints »
Norwich — During the 19 Days of Norwich, the town’s true loves gave to The Upper Valley Haven … well, in the absence of five golden rings, the inaugural event’s organizers and beneficiaries were still counting the blessings flowing to the homeless shelter in White River Junction at the end of Saturday afternoon.
And while no maids were a-milking, the organizers at Dan & Whit’s general store “have literally collected more than 500 gallons of milk for us through the Liquid Gold Challenge,” said Liz Verney, The Haven’s director of development and communications, as she steered diners to their tables during the first hour of Saturday’s grilled-cheese-and-soup lunch at Norwich’s First Congregational Church.
“They delivered the first load in a truck on Tuesday and the rest on Friday. They’ve also delivered 7,800 pounds of food. Combine the food and the milk with the $13,000 that has been raised (through cash donations) — which can buy us food from the Vermont Food Bank at about 19 or 20 cents a pound — and they’ve just stocked our shelves for almost two months. Something like 52 days.”
Probably a few more days by now.
“Donations (of money) are up to $14,000.05,” Dan Fraser of Dan & Whit’s reported via e-mail Saturday afternoon. “Breakfast donations (from the pancake feast at the Norwich Grange) this morning were $1,750. Lunch donations were $1,000. Raffle tickets ended at $1,197. (Silent) auction ended at $1,197; 56 dozen eggs donated.”
Donations of all kinds picked up the pace during lunch, even after Norwich native Hannah Kearney had caught up with neighbors, finished her grilled cheese, and bundled up for the drive to a session of freestyle-ski training for the Winter Olympics, less than two months away.
“I heard about this from being in Dan & Whit’s one day,” said Kearney, the defending Olympic and World Cup champion in moguls.
“I went in and Dan asked me, ‘What are you doing on Saturday the 21st?’ ”
For Dine Out in Norwich Day, she donated signed posters and a pair of Oakley ski goggles to the silent auction — joining Norwich-bred Olympic middle-distance runner Andrew Wheating’s Team USA tank tops.
“It’s Norwich and it’s The Haven,” Kearney said. “Easy call.”
And, over lunch, a flashback to her school days in Norwich (Marion Cross) and Hanover (Richmond Middle School and Hanover High).
“I ate at least one grilled cheese every single day in middle school,” said Kearney, who started freestyle skiing around that time. “One day it was four.”
And yesterday was just the icing on the (pan)cake. Throughout the 19 Days, a wide range of businesses donated 1 percent of their revenue to The Haven — “$3,180.38 now,” Fraser said.
That’s not counting other merchant initiatives.
Meanwhile, more and more residents are signing up for a Year of Promises calendar — in which donors pick a date during 2014 to donate a dollar amount worth of food to The Haven on that day.
Fraser added that two Norwich women offered during the drive to match the next $1,000 of donated money on a given day and “at noon, I had some very impressive checks that were turned in. … One woman wanted to make sure at least one match was met, so she wrote her check for $500. I also received a check for $500 specifically to be used to purchase fresh produce. We will be ordering The Haven cases of apples, bananas and pears.”
Once they’re done stocking shelves that were going bare in spots two weeks ago, The Haven’s staff and volunteers will invite donors big and small to a thank-you celebration at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich on Jan. 12, between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., during which the museum will offer free admission.
“People have been making donations from as close as Hanover and as far away as Texas,” the Haven’s Verney said. “It’s amazing.”
David Corriveau can be reached at 603-727-3304.