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September 25. 2013 7:34PM

Farmington police joining ‘Beard Nation,’ supporting food pantry


Teresa Magoon, outreach specialist at Strafford County Community Action Program's office in downtown Farmington, hopes to fill the shelves with more donations as many area families are in need this time of year after purchasing school supplies or heat as temperatures began to dip low at nights. While the local pantry usually serves 100 families in northern Strafford County a month, Magoon said they already helped 92 as of Monday. (JOHN QUINN PHOTO)

FARMINGTON — As the Boston Red Sox chase another World Series championship, police hope to support them while helping fill food pantry shelves.

Ten years ago, some officers shaved their heads to show their support for the Sox.

This year, police plan to join “Beard Nation” and respond to a recent call for help from Strafford County Community Action Program — which operates a local pantry and provides assistance to area residents, according to Police Chief Kevin Willey.

After making a $50 donation to the pantry — which is located in the Old Courthouse along Main Street — officers can grow a beard as long as the Red Sox are in the running for a World Series title, according to police.

“Most officers are planning on participating in the event. Our hope is to raise $500 for CAP,” Willey said, adding this is a fun way to support the community and the Red Sox, who are preparing for the upcoming American League playoffs.

“If we can find a way to do something fun and different for the officers while helping the community, I view it as a win-win situation,” Willey said in a police press release.

“I participated in our first event in 2003 and, although there was not the outcome that we had hoped for, it was very popular with the officers and the community. This event is very popular with the officers, but it also raises awareness of an issue that faces a number of residents that live in this community.”

Although Willey said he hasn’t heard of any other organizations trying something similar, he hopes Farmington can raise awareness and encourage other businesses, groups or departments to take action.

For the pantry, which assists an average of 100 households in the area a month, the timing couldn’t be better, according to Susan Geier, community services and outreach director for Strafford County CAP.

“September is tough — our supply is low and demand is pretty high,” Geier said, adding the program serves about 3,500 residents in the county, including about 1,000 from the local pantry each year.

As a result, Geier said pantries in Farmington, Milton and Dover are always in need of non-perishable items — including peanut butter, soups, pasta, sauce and cereal — as well as supermarket gift cards and donations that keep the shelves full.

“The need is steady. There are definitely higher demand times each year,” Geier said, adding the donations will help the pantry obtain enough food to provide meals for those in need.

“Some people are trying to supplement what they have,” Geier said.

While there is often a stigma attached to seeking help, Geier said monthly visits to obtain extra food, fuel or heating assistance keep many people afloat in difficult times — especially if people were laid off, are unemployed or are under employed.

Additionally, CAP provides fuel and electrical assistance to more than 400 area residents, including more than $346,000 in town per year.

“We have a lot of people who are just on the bubble,” Geier said, adding many people use the assistance to get through to better times.

For more information, contact Susan Geier at (603) 516-8138 or visit CAP’s website at www.straffordcap.org.

jquinn@newstote.com


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