Shire Sharing Aims to Feed 600 Families
Participation in Shire Sharing has become an annual tradition for people all around New Hampshire, including a large number of Free Staters who donate and gather to pack and deliver meals. The organization aims to feed more families than ever this year - and to deliver coats with the meals. So we reached out to Shire Sharing's founder, Amanda Bouldin, to find out how things are going and how we can help.
It looks like you started fundraising early this year. How is it going?
Yes, we started fundraising earlier this year. Now that we are an official 501(c)(3) and have a board of directors, I have a lot more help getting things done. Fundraising has been good so far: there have been many generous donors, and employers have matched some donations as well. The NH Liberty Alliance offered to match up to $1,000 in donations out of their Civic Action Fund, and this promotion met its goal in less than three days. Right now, we have enough funds to provide Thanksgiving to about 400 households. Our goal this year is 600, which means we need about $7,000 more to reach our goal.
Tell us about the coat drive. That's something new that's expanding this year?
We did a coat drive in 2015 and 2016, each year trying to grow it a bit bigger. This year, one of our board members, Edi Swearingen, set up "drop-off locations" across the state. If you go to ShireSharing.org/coats, you'll see a list of every drop-off location statewide, from Keene to Portsmouth. There are bins on front porches waiting to overflow with coats!
We deliver these coats to children living in the homes that will also be receiving Thanksgiving dinners. When we make our deliveries of food on November 19th, many deliveries will come with warm winter coats. I hope it doesn't get too cold before then!
How do you feel about feeding 600 families...did you think that Shire Sharing would get this big?
No, I never thought Shire Sharing would get this big. When I did it for the first time back in 2011, I was just trying to feel connected to my dad. He did this same type of project during his life, and for about a decade he dragged my younger self along when he made his Thanksgiving deliveries. When he passed away, I thought, I want to do this in his memory. So the year he died, we fed 52 households. It was awesome, and I didn't give a single thought to doing it again. Then, about a year later, some friends asked me if I was going to do it again. I expressed doubt. Someone slid a $10 bill across the table and said, "There's your first donation. Now you have to do it again." That year we fed 200 households. It just keeps growing every year.
What would you say is the best part of being involved with Shire Sharing?
The death of a loved one is always hard. My dad has been gone for six years now, which I can hardly believe. The hurt eases only slowly. While my days are busy and I rarely think of him, the pain of losing my dad is still very real. So while it might sound weird, the best part about Shire Sharing, for me, is that it's very cathartic. I get to really work through my emotions every year and take joy in his life, how he lived it, and the legacy he left behind.
I imagine that others would say that the best part of Shire Sharing is the day we pack all the bags of food (which is happening November 18th). It's a fun party, you see lots of people you know, and you often meet brand new people who heard about Shire Sharing online and wanted to get involved. I love the potluck, the kids running around with balloon hats and balloon swords, and seeing how hard everyone works to get the job done. There has been so much in the media lately about violence — Charlottesville, Las Vegas, and so forth — that it really feels like our country is beginning to fracture in a major way. But when I'm at the Shire Sharing bag-stuffing event, I can see that, deep down, people generally share all the same values. It gives me hope.
What can people do to support Shire Sharing now?
Aside from donations, the point at which we need the most help is on November 19th when we make the deliveries. Right now we have five people signed up to make deliveries. If we reach our fundraising goal, that means that five people would have to knock on about 120 doors each, in one day. That's crazy! So I hope more people sign up to make deliveries. We have event pages set up on the Shire Sharing Facebook page.
The FSP's publication of participant opinions and activities does not represent support or endorsement and may not portray the diversity of opinions and activities that exists among participants.