DOVER — From the early days in 2011 serving one school in Dover, the End 68 Hours of Hunger nonprofit has grown to now serve more than 3,500 food-insecure children a day in communities in seven states.
Asked if she was satisfied, founder and Executive Director Claire Bloom said, “No, I want to keep working to involve as many as possible.”
Her effort and that of her organization has received a major boost. A donation for $36,723 was recently presented by Tri-City Subaru of Somersworth. The money was raised between November 2018 and January 2019, when the dealership’s customers had the option to direct a portion of their sale to End 68 Hours of Hunger.
“In addition to the check, Tri-City is the drop-off area spot for foodstuffs to help end childhood hunger in America,” said Robert Arthur, operations manager for the dealership. “We have delivered three carloads of food so far this year.”
End 68 Hours of Hunger, which provides food for schoolchildren on weekends, serves the needs of 150-190 children in Dover each week and many more around the local area. The donation of nearly $37,000 makes a major difference locally and contributes to an approximately $1 million annual budget across the entire seven-state operation, according to Bloom.
Cathy Dailey, a retired teacher who volunteers for End 68 Hours of Hunger, described all donations as having “huge value.” She added, “If you have ever seen hungry kids in school, you’ll understand.”
Bloom, who formerly served as executive officer aboard the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor, retired as a U.S. Navy lieutenant commander. In 2010, she discovered that the lack of food security negatively affects many schoolchildren and she took action, starting End 68 Hours of Hunger.
Dover now has a warehouse lined with steel shelves for End 68 Hours of Hunger’s food, the Christine Skidds building, donated by the Saint John’s Methodist Church.
The group meets on a schedule and in several hours goes from shelf to shelf packing as many bags as necessary to fulfill the needs of children in Dover.
The actions of these volunteers epitomizes the phrase “many hands makes light work.” Many of the Dover volunteers have been with the program since its inception.
Donna Eason is one.
“We are doing something tangible, giving these kids something to eat,” she said. Eason is employed by Cisco Systems, which allows her to participate in the program as part of its “time to give” community program.
Numerous companies participate. Panera bread donates loaves of bread each week. The volunteers cut it up and put it into a freezer.
“This program is invaluable,” said Greg Brown, dean of students of the Woodman Park Elementary School, “I can see it every Monday when the kids come back to school ready to learn.”
There are approximately 2,000 volunteers in the program throughout the country.
Bloom was effusive in her thanks to so many donors, mentioning Bottomline Technology, Timberland, Amadeus (from the very beginning) Lonza Technologies and the Mt. Washington Board of Realtors.