Area Band Organizes Fundraising Effort for Nelsonville Food Cupboard

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Every year for the past several years, local classic rock band The Hitch-Hikers has hosted a benefit concert for the Nelsonville Food Cupboard.

Their events have been known to bring in about $6,000. But in order to provide more consistent support for a local nonprofit that provides food to nearly 14,000 people a month, one band member wanted to do something more.

“The once-a-year influx of funds is not enough to sustain the program,” wrote Jonathan Flowers, the band’s lead singer, in a letter to The Athens Messenger.

Flowers said he hopes fans of the band and others who support the food cupboard will contribute donations to a new bank account established at Nelsonville Home and Savings Bank.

Checks sent to the bank with “Nelsonville Food Cupboard” in the memo line will be applied to the appropriate account, explained a representative of the bank.

At last count, donations to the account had reached $250, said Flowers.

The five-member band initially decided to support the Nelsonville Food Cupboard with its benefit concerts because they were assured their efforts stayed in Nelsonville, and Flowers said he’s supporting people he considers family.

Flowers’ passion for helping the cupboard hit home last year when he walked passed the organization, located at 83 Washington St., and saw the sign “Closed. Sorry, out of food,” hanging on the door.

“This really got to me,” Flowers said. “It was the 12th of December. That really went through me like crazy stuff. That’s when I decided we have to do a little bit more for them.”

Running out of food has happened in the past, explained Celeste Parsons, a member of the cupboard’s board of trustees. The organization receives food deliveries weekly because of the relatively small size of the space (it’s about 36 feet long and 10 feet wide).

“If we get a large demand, we may run out of the groceries brought in the previous week,” she said.

The Nelsonville Food Cupboard, an all-volunteer organization, has been serving those in need since the Church of the Epiphany opened it in 1989. Now, it’s a nonprofit organization operated by a board of trustees and is no longer affiliated with a church, explained Parsons.

Funds to support the cupboard’s $25,000 annual budget come from individual, organizations and church donations. They generally come in during the holiday season. Another source of funds come from a spring-time fundraising drive. Right now, the cupboard is benefiting from a food drive sponsored by Walmart.

For the past eight years, the demand on the cupboard has steadily increased, Parsons said. Being the only food pantry opened regularly in the region (it’s opened Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.), the organization attracts people from all over.

Just last month, clients came from nearly 25 different zip codes, from places like Carbondale, Rockbridge, New Lexington, McArthur, New Plymouth, Glouster, Jacksonville and of course, Nelsonville.

“We appreciate what the Hitch Hikers and all the other donors have done,” Parsons said. “The clientele keeps going up, and we have only the one source of income — that’s our friends in the local community.”

For more information about the cupboard, volunteers can be reached at the office during the cupboard’s business hours by calling 740-753-3810.