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End 68 Hours of Hunger breaks ground for storage facility
Article published Jan 24, 2013
DOVER — Executive Director of End 68 Hours of Hunger Claire Bloom, said she had no idea feeding children over the weekend for one community would ever turn into feeding nearly 500 children in the Seacoast and needing a building to store all of the donated food.
“I wake up in the morning sometimes and I say to myself, ‘Oh my god, how did this happen?’” Bloom said. “The thing that is amazing, I mean, really amazing, is what one person can do. You know, I’m not one to pat myself on the back and that is not what I am doing by any stretch of the imagination, but it is just astounding to me what one person can do.”
Bloom stood outside St. John’s United Methodist Church at 28 Cataract St. early Wednesday morning in the below zero temperatures with the organization’s donors and with the Skidds family, a family very close to her heart, to dig her shovel into the ground on the church’s property for the first time to begin the construction of the 800-square-foot storage space for End 68 Hours of Hunger.
The building, which Bloom has dedicated to the late Christine Skidds, 39, of Rochester, who died after a long battle with brain cancer in September of 2012, will store donations for the children in the Dover and Somersworth chapters.
“She was my first cheerleader,” Bloom said, adding that Skidds approached her beaming “with a smile as big as you can believe” when she first launched End 68 Hours of Hunger. “When she passed, I already knew we were going to work toward building this building and it was a no-brainer for me to dedicate the building to Christine.”
Skidds led the church’s team that filled backpacks for Bloom once a month.
“She was just so, so excited to be doing that,” Bloom said. “She’s always done so much for the church. Then, of course, she got very ill, so she was unable to continue. I feel like she was my first cheerleader. She was the person who first started the ball rolling and certainly was the spearhead for this church.”
Quiet, but honored, Christine’s husband, Steve, and son, Garrett, bundled up along with other members of their family and community business employees for their loved one.
“She’d be embarrassed,” Steve said, of the overwhelming support and dedication she received.
St. John’s United Methodist Church has provided this space on its property for the organization.
“So long as there is an End 68 Hours of Hunger program in Dover or Somersworth or both, we have full exclusive use of the building,” Bloom said.
The building will be a 20-by-40 unit with no heat or water.
“But there will be light,” Bloom said, adding it will also be warmer in the building than it is outside because it will be double insulated.
Brud Weger, an architect from York, donated his services to design the building and a number of volunteers will build the unit, with materials paid for by a number of major donors: Bottomline Technologies, Claire Bloom herself, the Forget Brothers who own Somersworth Hyundai, Somersworth Nissan and Concord Nissan, Gilbane Construction, Jack Pazdon Memorial Fund, Keith Launchbury, Liberty Mutual, Newmarket International and Sylvia Marshall.
The completely volunteer based program, which was established in 2011, feeds students in Dover, Somersworth, Portsmouth, Alton, Barnstead, Barrington, Milton, Hampton, Kittery, Maine, Eliot, Maine and soon to be in Exeter and in York, Maine.
Although there are many food drives in the area, including last weekend’s drive at Uno Chicago Bar and Grill, which Bloom estimates raised $3,000 worth of donations, volunteers are always looking for donated food items. They will accept nutritional cereal, cans of soup or beans, peanut butter and jelly (plastic containers only), cans of tuna and chicken, canned fruit, crackers, macaroni and cheese and Ramen noodles (boxed, no cups) and nutrition bars.
For more information, visit end68hoursofhunger.org.
We are busy planning our dedication for the new building, and hopefully that will be scheduled at a time all of you can come! It will be in April!