Church shares bounty at Thanksgiving

EAGER TO HELP — Brownie Girl Scouts Shelley Sawtell, Abby Scarlett and Olivia Martin wait for instructions from First Congregational Church member Elsa Freeman as they help to pack Thanksgiving Boxes last Thursday, Nov. 17 at the Bridgton church. Sixty-seven boxes were packed in about 30 minutes by over 60 volunteers at the church, and were distributed prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. See story on Page 1B. (Photo by Kevin Murphy)

Each year at Thanksgiving, the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ (UCC) of Bridgton collects hundreds of canned goods, fresh vegetables and even turkeys to provide a traditional holiday meal for local families in need. On Nov. 17, adult volunteers teamed up with teens and Bridgton’s Brownie and Junior Girl Scout troops to pack more than 65 boxes of food to distribute before the holiday.

Longtime church members Sandra Libby and Beth Cossey organized the program, but many people and businesses helped out. Food was donated from community and church members as well as from the food pantry at Bridgton’s United Methodist Church, Hannaford Supermarkets, Food City, and Steven’s Brook Elementary School. Cub Scout Pack #149 collected food during their “Scouting for Food” program, and donated much of their cache to the church’s Thanksgiving box effort.

“It takes a lot of people to pull this off every year,” said Libby. “The kids, in particular, really have a great time helping pack the boxes. It's a wonderful way that we, as a faith community, can share our bounty with neighbors who could use a little help putting food on the table."

Bridgton Junior Troup #1744 (4th and 5th grades) and Bridgton Brownie Troop #1177 (2nd and 3rd grades) earned their food pantry patch by helping with the Thanksgiving program.

“It was such a great experience for the girls,” Karla Swanson-Murphy said, who along with Lisa Martin leads Bridgton Junior Troop #1744. “We are able to give back to the church, which allows us use of the building, and the multi-generational interaction was so great to watch.”

More than 60 volunteers helped with packing. With so many volunteers pitching in, the boxes were packed in record time — just over an hour. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a party with pizza, cookies, fruit, sodas and juice.

The First Congregational Church, an open and affirming church, is located at 33 South High Street, Bridgton. The pastor is the Rev. Annette Mott. Sunday services are at 10 a.m., and childcare is available. For more information, call 647-3936 or visit www.bridgtonucc.com

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