AMBLER — With its nod to the 1970s and 1980s, the Mattie N. Dixon Community Cupboard fundraiser scheduled for Feb. 23 — a “1970s-1980s Party” at the Willow Grove VFW from 6:30 to 11 p.m. — recalls the years Bill Gates founded Microsoft; Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne established Apple Inc.; Atari 2600 became the first successful home video game system; the VCR market soared; and Commodore PET showed up in stores as the first personal computer available for retail sale.

The two decades began with the infamous Richard Nixon presidency and ended with the fall of Germany’s Berlin Wall and a thaw in the Cold War. Along the way, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan; the U.S. protested by boycotting the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow; and four years later, most of the then-Eastern Bloc boycotted the summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

At press time, one of 2019’s top headlines — the likelihood of government shutdown No.  2 under the Donald Trump presidency — was anyone’s guess.

Either way, Mattie N. Dixon Community Cupboard’s upcoming fundraiser is a definite go.

Tickets are $40, and with the possibility of another work stoppage for federal workers and the accompanying suspension of the SNAP food stamp program for all recipients, supporting the benefit couldn’t be more important, says MNDCC Executive Director Christine Bouley.

Not to mention a lot of fun, Bouley adds.

Memories of 1970-'80s headlines may have faded (the Iran hostage crisis; New York City’s 25-hour blackout; the TV-radio ban on cigarette advertising; voting rights for 18-year-olds; interminable — odd-even day — lines for hard-to-find gasoline after the Arab Oil Embargo and $1-plus per gallon gas prices for the first time ever in this country). But the era’s eclectic fashion (hippie to disco, vintage to camouflage, mini to maxi, leisure suits and bell bottoms to surplus military), distinctive perms and bright eye shadow evoke near-instant visuals.

“And with the '70s-'80s theme … and all the different options … we’re hoping people will dig into the back of their closets and dress up because it’s pretty funny when you see some of those clothes now,” Bouley says.

The diversity of the fundraiser’s donors (among them the Act II Playhouse, the Ambler Theater, Whole Foods, Fireside Bar & Grill, Ristorante San Marco, Fresh Market Grocery Store, Gypsy Blu/Conshy Girls, Best Western, Abyss Coffee, The Simple Greek, Motivation Fitness, Cabi Fashions, Iron Hill Brewery, the Ambler Symphony and a number of private donors) pretty much guarantees the fundraiser’s raffle baskets will also include “something for everybody,” the MNDCC spokeswoman says.

“So far, we have everything from a lottery basket to an Ambler restaurant basket, an Ambler Theater movie basket, a wine basket and a St. Patrick’s Day basket,” she adds. “One of our donors even gave us a [certificate] for a hot air balloon ride.

“The more the better, though, and I don’t think we can have ‘too many’ baskets … or beer for our beer wall raffle, even if people donate them last-minute. This event will help raise the funds we need to help families who are struggling with rent payments … PECO bills and home heating oil this winter. The food cupboard is a big part of what we do, but a lot of our families have to make do paycheck to paycheck, so we also offer emergency financial aid.”

In addition, the group sponsors a boutique with clothing and household items; housing referrals; on-site access to nurse screening and Community Connections advocacy; and educational, job assistance and back-to-school resources.

The local nonprofit has been assisting individuals and families whose incomes fall at or below Federal Government Poverty Guidelines since it was established by longtime Ambler resident Mattie N. Dixon in 1973.

“In response to learning that people in her community were going hungry, she started serving families out of her basement …,” the cupboard’s history explains. “As word spread of Mattie’s generosity and others joined her efforts, she moved to several other homes … [and] with help from the community and the Ambler Rotary Club, Mrs. Dixon was able to purchase our current building [at 150 N. Main St.]”

The agency also maintains a satellite office in North Hills.

Tickets to Feb. 23’s “1970s-1980s Party” at the Willow Grove VFW, 305 W. Moreland Road, can be purchased via mail to Community Cupboard, P.O. Box 367, Ambler, PA 19002; online via Eventbright.com (reference Mattie N. Dixon); or in-person at the cupboard’s Ambler headquarters. The $40 admission includes a buffet and draft beer, a DJ and dancing.

Additional information is available at community-cupboard.org and 215-628-3002.

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