The dirt-cheap ornaments and decorations were a big hit at Colonial Neighborhood Council’s recent Christmas in July Sale. Even bigger? The home-baked cookies and cold lemonade served by CNC Kid Crew members and siblings Jacob and Chelsea Snyder.
The Conshohocken-based aid agency serves needy families and individuals throughout the Colonial School District. The old fashioned lemonade stand that’s become a signature feature at CNC’s annual summer Yule sale benefits the district’s youngest residents by earmarking all of its proceeds for classroom supplies.
Nine-year-old Jacob reports 2019’s stand brought in $264.
“Chelsea and I are going to spend the money on school supplies for kids who don’t have any,” he adds.
At press time, Jacob, Chelsea, 5, and grandmother Sandi Fryer – CNC’s executive director – were out there doing just that, shopping for academic necessities like backpacks, pencils, markers and notebooks. Fryer expects to begin distributing the items at CNC headquarters, 107 E. 4th Ave., by mid-August and welcomes additional contributions of goods or money from anyone who’d like to expand the give-away.
In the meantime, she says, “Jacob and Chelsea would like to thank everybody who helped make this year’s lemonade stand such a big success.”
“People were so supportive,” she continues. “The kids had everyone from people who just wandered by to the mayor and our local police officers and firemen stopping. It was really something to watch. This kid…I know he’s my grandson, but he has the biggest heart. It was his idea to start the lemonade stand – this is its fifth year – and he totally gets it…that the money he and Chelsea make helps people who really need it.”
On the other hand, Fryer says, the shut-ins CNC serves – typically elderly and infirmed – don’t need school supplies, but they do need their Meals on Wheels food deliveries, and the program’s pool of volunteer drivers – its lifeblood – is currently at a near all-time low.
“Man…do we need volunteers, especially drivers,” she says. We’re so desperate, we’ll even take someone who can do deliveries with a little red wagon. Seriously, we’re really short. If I had even five more people I could call on, even as back-ups, we’d be in a lot better shape than we are right now. I guess people are just busy. I don’t know. We have some great volunteers who come in on a regular basis, but it’s just hard to keep up with all the need out there.”
CNC was established in 1967 and serves “youth, the elderly, unemployed, underemployed and disadvantaged individuals and families.” In addition to its MOW program, it operates a community pantry and thrift shop and provides emergency financial help if its budget allows. That budget runs on a shoestring, and the agency relies on donations from area residents, businesses and community groups to survive.
“We have some really awesome people around here, a really awesome community” Fryer says. “We get food donations from Wawa and Weis and Pepperidge Farm, and Giant at the Metroplex gives half of whatever they make on their (reusable shopping) bags to CNC in gift cards. Other places, like Conshohocken Italian Bakery, have donation bins set up for us. And the schools and churches and different groups…like St. Philip’s Church in Lafayette Hill and Conshystuff here in town…sponsor food drives for the (CNC community) pantry. The (Conshohocken Plymouth Whitemarsh) Rotary Club has been an amazing supporter.”
So have area individuals.
“We have other people…like Paul Mazzochetti, a local realtor we call ‘cereal man’ because he brings in boxes of cereal on a regular basis…and another man, who doesn’t want to be identified but just asks regularly ‘What are you out of…jelly, diapers?’ and brings us whatever it is (for the pantry),” Fryer says.
“The Kids Crew has endured, and they’re out and about helping…doing things for the holidays, collecting loose change and coins, and we have some that help out at the (Conshohocken) Community Garden that bring us fresh vegetables almost daily, which is great.”
Even so, additional help is “always welcome,” the CNC chief emphasizes.
“I think some people think we’re only here for people in Conshohocken,” Fryer says. “Possibly, some people farther out in the townships don’t realize that we’re here for the entire Colonial School District…Plymouth, Whitemarsh and Conshohocken. And we can always use donations. We only have so much to give. We’re far from a bottomless pit when it comes to money and funding, and we appreciate whatever people can do to help us.”
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