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Fergus residents helping others ‘get what they need’ during the pandemic (3 photos)

Alissa Pott and her team help connect residents in need with warm clothing, bread and other items

FERGUS-- Good things come in threes, and for one group of residents in Fergus, their three initiatives have been making a positive impact within their community.

Alissa Pott and four others have organized these events to help support those in need. The projects involve giving away items like warm clothing, bread, baked goods and more.

For them, it’s about giving back to the community with no questions asked.

“Some people feel ashamed to ask for help,” said Pott, “and I used to be like that when I was younger … but we all need help right now, especially during the pandemic.

“There’s no interaction. You go and get what you need and bring it home.”

At first, the group started a free item event in September following a conversation Pott and a friend shared about reducing items that went to the landfill.

They asked Bethel Baptist Church if they could hold an all-day event at their location, which people could come by and take something they needed for free.

After events in September and October, Pott said they received overwhelming support for the initiative.

"People can come from all over, you don't have to be from Fergus or Elora," said Pott, "You come and take whatever you want for free, and have a wonderful day." 

“We are going to be starting it up again in April, and we will be doing it for spring and fall as the years go on."

After that project, the group then went on to create a warm clothing drive called #projectwarmth. 

Inspired by a woman in Orangeville, #projectwarmth involves collecting winter coats, scarves and hats, which are then hung up on a metal fence along Edinburgh Avenue, allowing anyone to come by any time and take what they need. 

“This is our project for the community to stay warm,” said Pott about the name of the project, “It was just kind-of like it (the name) goes together.”

Since starting the project in November, Pott said they have given away 25 winter coats, 15 scarves and numerous hats and mittens.

“As winter comes, we will continue to utilize it,” said Pott,

“It’s like a circle of love, it’s amazing.”

She adds that the woman who inspired her also recently reached out after seeing their work on social media.

“She’s like, it’s heart-warming to know that my start-up has inspired you guys,” Pott recalls from the conversation, “It warms my heart that you guys have taken the initiative to get this project going in your town.”

Pott mentions they also keep a bin offering free bread and baked goods, which have been donated by COBS bakery in Guelph. 

“One of my friends, she goes to this bakery and decided to ask them, if you have extra, is there any way to donate instead of throwing it?” Pott explains how they connected with COBS for this project.

“They had said to her, ‘Sure! Distribute it how you want, and we will give you everything that’s left on the shelf.’”

Deciding to try it and see how it goes, Pott said they started handing out bread and baked goods to their neighbours and left any extras in a bin on Pott’s front porch. 

“Since it has been taking off, we have scheduled that someone will pick it up every Sunday and they will be giving us all their bread and baked goodies,” said Pott, “So we will give it back to the community.”

Reflecting, she said each initiative has been made possible by the work being done by group members behind the scenes.

“I have had so many people bless us and thank us,” said Pott, “(All of this) wouldn’t have been done without the team that I have.”

While coordinating and organizing these projects is a lot of work, Pott said the feedback they receive makes it all worthwhile.

“I’ve been getting a lot of positive responses and feedback from the community,” she said, “We have such a good community that can come together and more forward.”

A former personal support worker (PSW) who worked in healthcare, Pott said helping others is a part of who she is. Although she is now on Ontario Works due to rheumatoid arthritis and other health conditions, Pott said she wants to continue to give back.

“If people are willing to donate these items, then why not?” Pott explains.

“Just be nice, smile and carry on. It takes such a small step to make a community happy."


Ariel Deutschmann

About the Author: Ariel Deutschmann

Ariel Deutschmann is a feature writer and reporter who covers community events, businesses, social initiatives, human interest stories and more involving Guelph and Wellington County
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