Covid-19Magazine Exclusive

A cool donation

It pays to be connected.

Rosemarie Dykeman, the director of social services for the Nashua, N.H., Corps, is one of the most connected people in town and it helped The Salvation Army land a much–needed commercial freezer during COVID–19.

Dykeman is a member of the Greater Nashua Food Council and also serves on a variety of local boards, including several funded by the United Way of Greater Nashua.

Those two organizations recently came together to buy four freezers for local non–profits at a cost of about $7,000.

“I was able to express the things that The Salvation Army here in Nashua needed and I said, ‘If I can do a big ask, we would really like a freezer. That would really help us out.’ Since we’ve installed it, it is completely full. We keep filling it up every day. It has been so helpful,” Dykeman said.

Dykeman said before the freezer arrived, The Salvation Army and other organizations sometimes had to turn away large food donations.

“Because we didn’t have enough freezer and refrigerator space, we weren’t able to take as much as we could,” Dykeman said.

Having the freezer upstairs near the front lobby of the corps has been a huge blessing during COVID-19.

“Our numbers have tripled since COVID,” Dykeman said.

While the corps would normally distribute 500 food boxes a month prior to COVID, that number jumped to between 1,500 and 1,900. The boxes have included baked goods, frozen meats, milk, eggs, cheese, frozen vegetables and fruit, and even ice cream on occasion.

“We’ve been very blessed by our local community,” Dykeman said. “Between the grocery stores and the New Hampshire Food Bank, we’ve been able to get a lot of food. It’s going out as fast as it’s coming in.”

The corps not only runs a food pantry, but also delivers food to senior and low-income housing.

Dykeman said the volunteers at the corps “have really stepped up” to help the community—and not just with food.

“They’re finding great joy in what we do,” she said. “They’re writing messages on the boxes, including Bible verses, and just hopeful messages. So, when a box is given, it lets people know they’re being thought of.”

Dykeman said a local Baptist church is making cards to put in the boxes.

One of the emerging themes for The Salvation Army throughout COVID–19 has been the collaboration with community partners. Those alliances promise to pay off long after COVID.

“We collaborate within our city so being on all these different boards with some of these organizations helped,” Dykeman said. “They get to know what we’re doing at The Salvation Army.

“The non–profits in this community and different agencies … we collaborate and not just during COVID.

We’ve always collaborated but COVID took it to another level. That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about Nashua. This community works together.”

by Robert Mitchell

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