Liliana Tripp takes a break from delivering food donations to Oxford’s Helping Hands Food Pantry. Supplied photo

OXFORD — Oxford’s Helping Hands Food Pantry Board President Karen Miller began volunteering with the group about 10 years ago. She was looking for a way to get respite from being a family caregiver by helping others. She needed something to enjoy. Three years ago when the pantry’s founder Suzanne Grover passed away, Miller stepped in as its leader.

Not only did Miller find joy in helping her community, but she also has the satisfaction of seeing others provide support to those in need. From the biggest stores in town to the youngest of children, Helping Hands counts on the generosity of others to fulfill its mission.

“We did our Thanksgiving pick-up yesterday,” Miller said in a Friday evening interview. “We put together non-perishables for a full meal, and financial donations make it possible for us to include gift cards for turkey or ham and vegetables.”

Walmart is the pantry’s largest benefactor, providing both food and gift cards. Good Shepherd Food Bank ,other businesses and private donors support it as well; a local and summer resident just donated $500 each, an annual tradition for them.

This year Helping Hands got a giant boost from a very small Oxford resident, first-grader Liliana Tripp. As part of a homeschooling social studies project, Liliana and her parents, Laura and Allen, began a food drive last month to supply the pantry for Thanksgiving.

“People tend to be more generous towards the holidays anyway,” Miller said. “But Liliana did an amazing job.”


The Tripps had to make multiple deliveries to get everything they collected onto the pantry’s shelves. Liliana also got a tour and to meet the volunteers who work to organize and distribute food.

Liliana Tripp, 5, of Oxford delivered wagon loads of food to Helping Hands Food Pantry for Thanksgiving. Supplied photo

“Part of Liliana’s work was to keep track of what she collected,” said mother Laura Tripp. “It all added up to 208 dried items, 599 cans, 99 jars/bottles and 18 other things. We delivered 1,014 items total, plus $360 in cash and gift cards.

“It’s been so big that we are planning to make this an annual event.”

The Helping Hands Food Pantry is open on Thursday afternoons. Miller said services are available to anyone in need, not just Oxford residents. People can call the  Oxford Town Office at 207-539-4431 for more information on how to receive help and provide it as well.

Liliana Tripp sent thank you notes to all the people who contributed to her Thanksgiving food drive. Supplied photo

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