CHATHAM – William James would approve. The American psychologist and philosopher once famously wrote that, “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
The 16 children who filled wagons with boxes of provisions as part of the fifth annual “Village Kids for Food Drive” wholeheartedly agree.
“We’re out here really helping people,” says Andrew Dinnan, age 10. “Being part of that makes me feel great.”
On July 7, children in yellow, “Village Kids for Food” T-shirts ran, skipped, and marched door-to-door across the Old Village, collecting food and donations for the Chatham Food Pantry. The youngsters — ages 3 to 12 years old — were equipped with red wagons, neighborhood maps, and a sense of giving and gratitude beyond their years.
“To me, being part of this food drive is great because it’s a chance to get together to help people who might not be able to buy the food they need,” says Connor Nicholson, age 11.
That sense of coming together in the name of a greater good inspired Old Village resident Nancy Koerner to organize the food drive five years ago.
“There’s a sense of satisfaction in bringing people together for a good cause,” says Koerner. “Our Old Village is a very special place and I feel it's important to keep in touch with our neighbors for common causes whether it's to preserve the ambiance of our historical area or to help others.” The Old Village Association supports the annual event, purchasing three gift certificates to the Cape Abilities Farm to Table Market and Gallery. The certificates are raffled off to participating children.
For the past four years, Koerner has co-chaired the event with neighbor Lisa Green. “It’s so important to germinate that sense of giving back in children — starting at a very young age,” says Green.
Veteran participant Leah Koerner, now age 9, was among the youngest participants when the food drive started five years ago. “It’s taught me a lot and makes my heart feel really good,” she says. “My favorite part is going up to a house to explain what Kids for Food is all about, and hopefully filling up the wagon.”
Fill up they did. In two hours, the children collected 20 large boxes filled with pasta, granola bars, juice boxes, cookies, cereal, canned vegetables and tuna, among other provisions. The food drive — which visits the 250 properties making up the Old Village — also generated $780 dollars in donations. This summer’s collection approaches last year’s record of 18 large boxes of food and $1,200 in cash donations.
“The boxes of food and the cash donations that these children collect truly have an impact for us,” says Ted Miller, who manages the CFP with his wife Martha. Miller said that the cash donations enable him to purchase meats and immediate need items from the Chatham Village Market, which provides favorable pricing for the CFP. A supplemental food pantry, the CFP is one of eight pantries overseen by the Lower Cape Outreach Council. On average, the pantry serves between 100 – 115 Chatham families. The CFP is supported by St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, which provides the CFP with rent-free space as well as administrative services.
“We are truly a town pantry,” says Miller. “We have the churches — all of them — pitching in with food donations; we have the Chatham Village Market’s generous support; we have the Chatham Community Garden providing fresh produce; and then we have extraordinary people like Nancy Koerner. At the end of the day, it’s the people who make it all work, and Nancy is incredible in bringing people together.”
Miller notes that the “Village Kids for Food Drive” imparts invaluable lessons for the youngsters involved. “These children are gaining an understanding and appreciation for how they can help families who may not be as fortunate as their own,” he says. “Ultimately, they’re learning that each of us has the capacity to make a difference.”
For more information on how to donate to the CFP, contact Ted and Martha Miller at
508-945-1813. For more information about the Old Village Kids for Food Drive, contact Nancy Koerner at firstname.lastname@example.org.