As we prepare and participate in holiday gatherings, work parties, and New Year celebrations, food is often the centerpiece of the event. Many of us gather with family and friends to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year with a big meal. It’s a time to be thankful but also an important time to remember that there are those in the community who struggle each day putting a meal on the table, let alone a holiday feast.
Community Action Partnership (CAP) is one of the great local organizations dedicated to stamping out hunger and helping people get back on their feet. The organization serves the 10 northern counties of Idaho as well as Asotin County in Washington. Its mission is to be a catalyst for building relationships that inspire and equip people to end poverty in their community. Programs include offering energy assistance and weatherization home improvement to help with utility bills, financial coaching, advocating for area seniors and food and nutrition programs. In Bonners Ferry, CAP runs the food bank that helps get both canned and fresh foods into the hands of those most in need.
Liz Bigsby is the community engagement liaison for CAP in Bonners Ferry and has held the position for five years. According to Liz, donations from Thanksgiving through the lead up to Christmas were some of the most generous that she’s ever seen.
“Our community has provided a tremendous amount to CAP this year. The totals are greater than any other year before, so we are fully stocked and very thankful,” she explained.
It’s a true testament to the character of the community that even while so many were planning their own celebrations and spending hard-earned money on parties and Christmas presents, generous donors were still able to surpass donation expectations.
With the shelves stocked, local families in need were fed through the holidays and into the New Year, but that’s often when food banks like CAP begin to see a decline in donations.
“The donations that come through this time of year usually carry us for a while, but come spring and into the summer we see less and less offered because folks are out enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, and I don’t blame them,” said Liz.
She works on getting the word out that even though winter is a time when many struggle the most, hunger is a year-round issue across the region, and there are several easy ways you can help keep the shelves stocked throughout the year. During your trips to the grocery store, grab one additional non-perishable food item and set it aside. As you collect the items, occasionally drop them off as you drive by the CAP office at 6665 Main Street. Liz says when the weather warms families who struggle enjoy the same summer fare like items for the barbecue and the goodies to make s’mores around a campfire.
“Everything you usually enjoy in the summer is especially welcome to a family in need,” she said.
Like the majority of nonprofits, CAP could not function without the hard work and dedication of its volunteers. Volunteers often sort through donations and stack the food bank shelves, help direct clients to the services they are in need of, and help with other CAP functions and fundraisers.
“We love our volunteers, and we absolutely could not do this without them,” said Liz.
Those interested in learning more can pick up a volunteer packet at the CAP office during regular business hours. Monetary donations are also welcomed. All donations are tax deductible and can be one time or multiple times throughout the year. You can drop by the office, mail a check or click the ‘Donate’ tab at the website CAP4Action.org. You are able to specify which office you would like to donate to online as well.
With many more cold months ahead, families in need can rest a little easier knowing that their community food bank will have them covered thanks to the incredible generosity of their neighbors. Liz and the volunteers at Bonners Ferry Community Action Partnership are hoping this is the year that those generous donations continue throughout the year so the shelves never go empty. As someone who has seen the impacts of these donations many times over, Liz is happy to be part of such an impactful group and generous community.
“I feel so privileged to hold this position, to serve my community and to be part of helping families live a more victorious life. I am directly fighting against poverty and hunger in this job, and man that feels great!”
If you are in need of assistance or would like more information on Community Action Partnership’s programs or volunteer opportunities, visit CAP4Action.org, stop by the Bonners Ferry Office or call Liz Bigsby at 208.667.3663.