PARIS — Every year Save a Lot executes a corporate program to supply food for the holidays from its South Paris store, Bags for a Brighter Holiday. Customers can purchase a grab bag for $4.99 that Save a Lot distributes to the community. The store, an independently owned franchise, has tapped community partner Moss Brook Church to take it a step further, expanding it into a full family meal.

Moss Brook Church, a non-denominational church in Paris, matches every Save a Lot bag with one of its own that includes a four pound ham, apple sauce and instant potatoes, and delivers bags throughout Oxford Hills to neighbors in need.

Margo Lambertson of Moss Brook Church helps organize food drive bags at Save A Lot in South Paris last month. Submitted photo

“This year was the biggest yet,” said Rick Cook of Save a Lot. “We filled bags that Moss Brook Church delivered to 564 households for the holidays.

“The bags are each filled with pasta, a muffin mix, canned vegetables and tuna and a cornbread mix. Our customers pay $4.99 per bag. They can include a note for recipients if they wish.”

Don Winckler, outreach coordinator for Moss Brook Church, collected the customer-supplied bags each weekend leading up to Christmas and made sure that each was paired one of the church’s bags. Church members then distributed the meals personally to residents throughout Oxford Hills communities.

“It’s important for our church members to be aware of their community and needs,” said Winckler. “They pass the holiday bags out personally. It’s a way to check on their neighbors.”

Moss Brook Church runs fundraisers throughout the year to pay for its food assistance programs.

“We collect money by volunteering at the Oxford Fair, selling tickets and running parking,” said Winckler. “We’ve also sold sweatshirts for the last 10 years, with proceeds funding our partnership program with Save a Lot.”

While Bags for a Brighter Holiday is limited to the Christmas season, Moss Brook Church works to feed the community year-round.

“We provide food vouchers to the community,” said Winckler. “We also have a senior assistance day once a month out of our administrative office on High Street in South Paris. And in July we have an annual meals program, sort of a summer harvest.”

According to Cook, Bags for a Brighter Holiday is just one way that Save a Lot’s corporate parent works to help feed the communities its stores serve. The bags are pre-packaged and customers pick them up as they shop and drop them in the supply bin after they’ve paid for their groceries.

“People are prideful when they are in need,” said Winckler. “Our church is dedicated to seeking out those who will benefit from community support.”

“This is a convenient for our customers to help take a little stress out of others’ holidays,” said Cook. “And the program just keeps growing. The bags are heavily discounted, but the retail value on food distributed this year exceeded $10,000.”


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