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The Upper Valley Dan & Whit’s Challenge: 19 Days of Norwich, 1% for the Haven

Mar 05, 2015 12:32PM ● Published by Kirsten Gehlbach

Dan Fraser of Dan & Whits General Store  in Norwich, Vermont, was celebrated at the Marion Cross School on February 25, 2015. Back in 2013, when he heard that the Upper Valley Haven’s pantry shelves were bare and there wasn’t enough money to stock them, Dan had “a light-bulb moment.” His idea was simple “No one in the Upper Valley will go without food.” Dan’s light-bulb moments just keep coming.

In the first year, Dan asked Norwich community members to shop locally and support businesses that would donate 1 percent of their profits earned during the first 19 days of December to the Haven. The results? In the first 19 days of December 2013, Dan’s big idea raised $27,849.

In 2014, Dan said, “Let’s raise even more this year,” and the community did. What did “19 Days of Norwich – 1% for the Haven, 2014” yield? How about 9,533 pounds of food collected, $156,208.26 in donations, plus $75, 000 in matching funds from the Byrne Foundation. That’s a grand total of $231,208.26— almost a quarter of a million dollars!  

With deep appreciation and gratitude, the Haven’s Board of Directors has named the Food Shelf lobby in honor of Dan Fraser, Dan & Whit’s General Store, and the town of Norwich. Dan and the community’s efforts continue with year-round food donations and financial support from businesses, individuals and families, schools, churches, and civic groups in Norwich and surrounding towns on both sides of the river. Such efforts result in community-building challenges and other events, increased awareness of poverty and the Haven’s vital programs, and increased revenue for participating businesses.

Take a look at the 2014 statistics. It takes $2.3 million to operate the Haven. The Haven supplied food for one household for one week on 14,864 occasions.

This represents a 5 percent increase in the number of households and a 13 percent increase in the number of Food Shelf visits. The Haven provided food to 3,801 different householdsthat’s the equivalent of 11,172 people, and 3,507 of those were children.

What’s next? Well, there’s Milk Monday and the Liquid Gold Challenge, for one. Fresh milk is so rare at the Haven that it’s referred to as “liquid gold.” When Dan found out about that, he declared Monday, December 16, Milk Monday. At the store’s checkout, customers found plastic milk-bottle caps, each representing a gallon of fresh milk. They bought one or more, dropped it in a bucket, and Dan & Whit’s had their supplier, Hood Dairy, deliver a gallon of milk to the Haven for each cap in the bucket. The 100-gallon goal was shattered quickly, so Dan extended the event through Thursday.

Then there’s the Full Deck Challenge. Each week a card is drawn from the deck,  representing a list of the most popular items requested for the Haven’s food shelf—52 weeks in a year, 52 cards in a deck. At the end of the year, the full deck has been played, and the Haven receives food every week.

Who knows what Dan will think of next? Maybe 365 days of Norwich –1% for the Haven? Congratulations to Dan Fraser and his light-bulb moments. Shine on!

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