DEAR SUN SPOTS: By the time everyone reads this letter, we will have already rung in the new year. As I reflect upon 2020, I realize that the Sweden Food Pantry has much to be grateful for.

We have remarkable donors. People locally and from far away demonstrated that we are all neighbors helping neighbors.

The Bridgton-Lake Region Rotary Club not only became active in donating Health and Wellness Bags for local pantries, assisting when we experienced a box shortage but also brought area pantries together for the first time via Zoom to discuss concerns and share ideas. After each meeting, I walked away with new solutions and ideas to help get us through these unusual times. It indeed takes a village.

The United Way of Androscoggin and Oxford Counties assisted with donations early on at a time when prices were rising and some products were becoming scarce.

A grant from Good Shepherd allowed us to purchase a used van through Ripley and Fletcher in South Paris. The owner, Joe gave us a great deal. We will now be protected from the snow, rain, sleet and hail when picking up food. Muddy River Signs from Bridgton also gave us a great deal on the signage for the van.

Governor Mills, through the help of the Federal Agriculture Department, made grants available to local pantries. This grant was processed through Catholic Charities. SFP applied for it and received funding to offset our over-expenditure on food costs.

I would be remiss if I did not mention our wonderful volunteers. Due to COVID-19, about half of the volunteers were in a high-risk category so were no longer on the list.

It was necessary to keep a small group of consistent people to keep safety at the forefront. There are no words to express how much I appreciate each and every one of them. Some operate behind the scenes and others are at the forefront. Together, we have delivered to the participants without a hitch.

We had several local gardeners come by with fresh produce during the growing season. There is nothing better than vegetables coming right out of the garden.

At some point in 2021, we are all looking forward to going back to a shopping model where our participants can come inside and do their own shopping, rather than the drive-by approach necessitated by the pandemic.

SFP has both a website and a Facebook page. Check it out at Again, thanks for the support. We are indeed all neighbors helping neighbors.—Linda, Sweden Food Pantry Director, Sweden

ANSWER: This is a beautiful thank you letter and I am always so happy to share these with everyone in Sun Spots Land. I am always impressed by all the hard work and generosity that goes into keeping these non-profits running and viable. You have given all of us an inside peek into what it takes. May you be blessed in your work.

The Sweden Food Pantry benefits people from Sweden, Fryeburg, Lovell, Waterford, Stoneham, Stow and Albany Township. However, anyone in need of food is welcome.

Tax-deductible donations can be made by check payable to: Sweden Food Pantry, 137 Bridgton Road, Sweden, ME 04040

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