When it debuted in 2013, the Conshystuff Food Drive collected nearly 7,000 pounds of non-perishables for Colonial Neighborhood Council’s community food cupboard. At press time, this year’s drive had netted more than twice that amount for the small social agency, “which says a lot about the generosity of the people in this area,” notes Conshystuff spokesman Brian Coll.
And, Coll adds, although he “hate(s) asking for food in this community,” he loves the area-wide support he and fellow organizers have seen “each year that we’ve done this,” especially given reports that 30-plus million people currently struggle with hunger in the United States, including some 11 million children.
Not only during the high-profile winter holiday season, either, he noted.
“Here’s the deal … hunger doesn’t discriminate,” says Coll, a longtime member of CNC’s board of directors. “Hunger doesn’t take a day off. And people can use this food we collect year-round. It’s not like (CNC) helps feed people only at Thanksgiving or Christmas. The food we collect over the next couple of months will, hopefully, last a year.”
And feed anyone who happens to be down on their luck.
“You never know who is going to need it or why they are going to need it,” Coll continues. “It could be you. It could be a neighbor, a friend’s mom or dad … the young family down the street who’s just paying the bills but could use a little help since their part-time job slowed up.”
Efforts to be part of the Conshystuff drive -- or, for that matter, ongoing attention to the needs of area food pantries that serve the public -- needn’t be “a big deal, either.”
“When you’re shopping, grab an extra pasta sauce, buy some condiments, some tuna, beans … canned soups, canned fruit,” Colls adds. “If you would buy it for your family, I’m sure another family would be happy to have it on their table as well.”
The local man says the Conshystuff drive wouldn’t be possible without the widespread support it receives from area businesses, community groups, civic organizations and private residents.
He points to special events held at the Conshohocken Beer Garden and Conshohocken VFW, the yearly kick-off party hosted by Hussey Team Mortgage Advisors “and too many other ways people support this to mention them all.”
The annual Fill-A-Bus collection co-sponsored by parishioners and students at Lafayette Hill’s St. Philip Neri Parish and neighboring Sague bus company is a key contributor to the drive and has netted thousands of pounds of non-perishables, paper products and baby supplies since its inception in 2014. Fill-A-Bus was spearheaded by St. Philip’s parents Michelle Sague Abiuso and Jennifer Sague McMenamin and routinely packs one of their family’s Sague school buses with contributions.
This year’s Fill-A-Bus took place Nov. 2 and 3 and netted 7,500 pounds of goods which St. Philip’s students and staffers unloaded at CNC on Nov. 4.
“Those guys are terrific,” Coll says. “I really can’t say enough about them and the enthusiasm they bring to the project each year.”
Although CNC has been Conshohocken-based since its establishment in 1967, Coll and other supporters emphasize the small, non-profit serves residents throughout the entire Colonial School District, which includes Plymouth and Whitemarsh Townships -- “not just people who live in Conshohocken.”
“Some people tend to forget that (CNC’s) resources are available to anyone who needs them, regardless of where they live in the district,” Coll says.
Those resources include a number of Meals on Wheels routes, an on-site thrift shop and, as available, emergency financial assistance for basics like fuel, utilities, medical prescriptions and school supplies. The agency also provides holiday meals and gifts to needy families … thanks to the food, volunteer services and monetary donations that are “gratefully” accepted year-round. CNC is located at 107 E. 4th Ave. in Conshohocken. Additional information is available at 610-828-6595.
More information about 2019’s Conshystuff drive is available at 610-825-7072 or in-person at Coll’s Custom Framing, 324 Fayette St., Conshohohocken. Coll’s and several neighboring businesses -- Coldwell Banker, Conshohocken Italian Bakery, DeStolfo’s Premier Martial Arts, ‘feine, Hussey Team Mortgage Advisors, Sal’s Barber Shop, Hair Designer and Yoga Home -- are also drop-off points for contributions.