TP giveaways are a good start: Donations for charities, SCS and BFL

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Bloom Yoga is on a ‘roll’: Bloom Yoga and Wellness held a food drive for Southington Community Services last Saturday. Bethany Wallace, right, accepts a donation of bread and other items for the food pantry. She repays the kindness with a roll of toilet paper. Bloom Yoga owners had a surplus of toilet paper when they closed their doors, so they organized this donations-for-TP drive. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)

Though forced to close doors under the governor’s mandate, one local fitness studio came up with an idea to help some of Southington’s most vulnerable residents. In “The Great TP Giveaway” last week, Bloom Yoga Fitness Studios found a way to make use of a recent shipping of paper goods that had come in just before doors closed.

“We had just ordered 100 rolls of toilet paper right before the state put out the mandate that we had to close,” said one of the studio owners, Bethany Wallace. “We thought, ‘What could we do that would be uplifting to the community in this time?,’ then we had this idea.”

After hearing news reports about empty shelves in the toilet paper aisles in local stores, studio owners decided to host a food drive for Southington Community Services in exchange for those rolls of toilet paper. Anyone who came out to donate food items received one roll of toilet paper.

“We thought this would be kind of a fun way to get people to come out and donate goods for the food pantry,” said Wallace.

The drive enticed many people to come out—and many even refused the roll of toilet paper, leaving it for someone else who needed it more than they did. At the end of the drive, Wallace said any leftover toilet paper would be donated to LISA, Inc.

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“This is the time of year that LISA, Inc. usually holds a collection for paper goods for the youth in their care, so we decided that we would donate anything leftover,” said Wallace.

Co-owner Julie Wallace said the studio was happy to help the community. They had called SCS and were told they were low on perishables such as meat and dairy products in particular. Owners of Bloom Yoga Fitness Studios organized several large insulated bags to keep donated products fresh.

“We’re thinking of things to stay positive in such a challenging time where people are just gripped with fear,” she said.

SCS is not the only service organization facing challenges during the coronavirus outbreak. Southington’s soup kitchen, Bread for Life, had to change the way they operate.

“The health department has asked us to do take-away meals for our in-house clients,” said BFL director Donna Ayer. “In our kitchen, we’re doing take-away meals outside where our clients come up to the front porch and grab a meal to-go.”

Normally, BFL relies on a program called “Food Rescue” through FoodShare in which they pick up foods from grocery stores that are still good but past the sell-date. Because of the outbreak, Ayer reported grocery stores do not have much in the way of excess foods right now.

Additionally, all upcoming food drives have been cancelled to avoid too many people gathering in one place.

“This is definitely going to impact us,” said Ayer. The kitchen is also facing additional costs for take-away containers, utensils, cups and more. Soon, they likely will need to purchase foods on their own that are normally donated.

Ayer said the best way that people in the community can help is to send donations either online or checks by mail.

“The people we’re serving really need that meal. They don’t have any other options,” said Ayer. “We’re going to keep doing our job and serving those in need, but we are definitely feeling challenged right now.”

To learn more about what BFL is doing, or to donate to the kitchen, visit www.southingtonbreadforlife.org.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at News@SouthingtonObserver.com.

Bloom Yoga owners held a “toilet paper giveaway” fundraiser last Saturday to benefit local charities. From left, Bethany, Morgan, Julie, and Abby Wallace. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)