Capstone Community Action’s Fuel Your Neighbors campaign, in partnership with VSECU, raised more than $137,000 to support emergency food and heating assistance to vulnerable Vermonters, surpassing the goal of $100,000.
An early start to winter and persistent cold temperatures forced households to face tough decisions on basic needs like food and heat. The prolonged government shutdown created further uncertainty and economic vulnerability. Capstone has experienced a 35% increase in people requesting emergency heating assistance this winter. Since November, Capstone’s food shelf has received more than 3,500 visits from households in need of food.
“We anticipate serving over 5,000 central Vermonters this year with food and heating assistance,” states Sue Minter, Capstone’s executive director. “The need is real and it is critical. I see the faces of inequality lined up outside our doors before 8am. Young moms with children in tow, elderly couples, and young men huddled against the cold, waiting patiently with empty bags and boxes to fill with fresh food from our food shelf, or get help because they are about to run out of heating oil. We are grateful for the community’s support of this effort, helping to put food on their tables and heat in their homes.”
Fuel Your Neighbors is a 100 day campaign, in partnership with VSECU, that ran from Nov. 27, Giving Tuesday, through Mar. 7, to raise awareness and funds to support vulnerable Vermonters with food and heat this winter. This is the third year Capstone and VSECU have teamed up on this effort, raising a total of $296,000 since 2016.
“When communities come together to help neighbors in need, it has a positive impact on everybody, from those who are brave enough to ask for help to those who donate these vital dollars for food and heat,” said Rob Miller, CEO, VSECU. “For three years, it’s been a point of pride for VSECU to power Fuel Your Neighbors. This is truly a cooperative effort, where our shared skills, knowledge, resources, and commitment to growing prosperity come together to create real, measurable results.”
Central Vermont Medical Center, The Alchemist , National Life Group and Lawson’s Finest Liquids, along with several generous community members took a leadership role in ensuring the campaign’s success. Other businesses involved include The Point FM, Hickok & Boardman, NorthCountry Federal Credit Union, Northfield Savings Bank, Mutual of America, FirstLight, Leonne McDowell Roberts, Cigna, Washington Electric Cooperative, Consolidated Communications, Vermont Gas, Red Hen Bakery, Passumpsic Bank, Cork Wine Bar, Three Penny Taproom and Blackback Pub.
“This is one small example of what it takes to create change. It takes awareness and action around a common purpose,” states Minter. “Poverty is not a permanent condition. At Capstone, in concert with our community partners, we are building ladders out of poverty creating opportunities for every Vermonter to achieve success.”