December 1, 2021

Reverse Advent calendar project helps community

‘Giving is more important’

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

Rosemary Lane, 6, places a box of Honey Nut Cheerios into a box, while her brother, 11-year-old Bryce also places items into his box. The two children are participating in a reverse Advent calendar, where they donate an item each day from Nov. 25 to Dec. 22, by putting it in the box. The box is then given to the Groton Community Pantry which hands them out to those less fortunate.

GROTON — Eleven-year-old Bryce Lane, picked up a box of food, stood on his tippy-toes and placed it into the large box he had decorated that was on his kitchen table.

His 6-year-old sister Rosemary stood next to him, finger on her chin, looking at the jelly, granola bars and cereal, debating which to pick to put into her box.

The two Groton kids are participating in reverse Advent calendar project to help feed people in the community. The idea was started by Groton Community Pantry Coordinator Jessamine Stone and has participants of the project, starting Nov. 25 and running until Dec. 22, put a different item from the calendar each day in the box.

“About a year ago, I saw something similar around this time and I thought, hey, that’s a really cool idea,” she said.

Monday was a six-pack of ramen noodles.

However, Bryce and Rosemary, along with mom Deanna Lane, just decided to put everything in the box all at once.

Want to participate?

Contact Groton Community Pantry Coordinator Jessamine Stone at 607-592-4825 for details.

Lane, who saw the project through Facebook, asked her kids if they wanted to participate, knowing it would also teach them life lessons.

“Giving is more important than receiving,” she said. “It teaches them that there are some people that have a lot less than we do.”

The kids said they enjoyed it too, especially getting to decorate the boxes.

Stone said 50 to 60 people are participating.

“Every day I’m still getting information from people who want to participate,” she said. “I wanted 100 and I think we’re going to easily hit that.”

The other reason Stone wanted to do the reverse Advent calendar is because of the work she does for the Groton Community Pantry at 101 McKinley Ave.

The pantry serves about 150 houses each year, Stone said, but that number can fluctuate.

“There’s a time where there’s a lot more and then time it’s a lot less,” she said. “I was that person looking in my cupboard thinking what will I feed my children and not thinking, what will I feed myself? People should be able to have good quality food and not have to suffer to get it. It’s crazy the things people cut out to be able to afford food and then they aren’t even affording good food.”

Stone also said people still can participate.

“I would really like to have so many that I can give extra boxes to the school, because I know there are people that do not come (to the pantry) for whatever reason,” she said.

She and the Groton School District set up a plan so extra boxes would be given to children.

“The more people we can get on board, the better,” Stone said.

If all works out well this year, Stone said it would be great to see this happen in other communities, like areas of Cortland County as well.

“Maybe next Christmas or next Thanksgiving people won’t have to wonder where their stuff is coming from,” she said.