BELFAST—Like homemade strands of popcorn on a Christmas tree, hundreds of hand-painted paper mittens are strung across the storefront windows of the Belfast Co-op this month. Apart from their colorful cheer, each mitten equals a dollar’s worth of food for someone who is struggling with hunger in Waldo county.
The sixth-grade students who are creating these mittens come from all over Waldo county as part of the Waterfall Arts’ Bridge program.
Bridge is a “free after-school art club for creative sixth graders to connect to themselves, each other, and the community through quality creative experiences.”
“The kids wanted to use art to raise awareness about local organizations,” said Alessandra Martinelli, Outreach Coordinator for the Belfast Community Co-op. “Last year, they chose the Heating Assistance Program at Waldo County Action Partners. They raised $500 and the sales from their artistic mittens went toward buying oil and wood and winter jackets.”
Martinelli said that this year the Belfast Co-op wasn’t sure if they had the time to do the project again, but the Bridge students insisted upon it.
“So, we let them pick a new organization and they chose the Belfast Soup Kitchen,” she said.
“The kids had a discussion and talked about what was an important need in the community and they decided that the Belfast Soup Kitchen was the best choice for their fundraising effort,” said Waterfall Arts Program Director Amy Tingle. “They were aware that there’s a problem in Waldo county in that people are food-insecure and going hungry and they wanted to serve that need.”
In order to make their decision, the students toured the Belfast Soup Kitchen, explored the kitchen and walk-in, and listened to how the soup kitchen worked. Both Martinelli and Tingle estimated that, with the number of meals the Belfast Soup Kitchen puts out each day including the Meals on Wheels Program, the kids’ efforts are going toward 350-500 meals a day.
The kids decorated the paper cut-out mittens with paint, paint sticks, colored pencils, and stamp pads and Waterfall Arts then dropped off the colorfully decorated paper mittens to the Belfast Co-op.
“We place them in baskets by the registers so people can buy them–they’re $1 per mitten,” said Martinelli. “Some people buy 10 or 15 at a time and every time a mitten is purchased, it’s hung up on a strand in the front windows.”
Martinelli estimated that so far hundreds of mittens have been sold with all of the proceeds going to the soup kitchen and that the project will only last until the end of this month.
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com