Local organization helps community with food access

Jul 8, 2020

Smith Mills Christian Congregational Church moderator Scott Stubbs started a whole organization because of toilet paper.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, when the need for food and other basic necessities became evident, Stubbs founded a network of volunteers called Dartmouth United Outreach to help the community. 

He said that it all started when he realized [the church’s] toilet paper stash would not be used despite nationwide shortages.

Stubbs went to neighboring Monroe Terrace to ask if any residents needed some.

“We just had all of this toilet paper and didn’t know what we were going to do with it,” he laughed.

After stopping by the elderly housing complex, Stubbs learned that many of the residents were housebound, without transportation to buy food and supplies.

“From there we put together some bags and started doing deliveries,” he said.

At first, he said Dartmouth United Outreach was delivering around 100 boxes and bags per week. Now, it's at more than 300.

“All of the credit goes to our wonderful volunteers,” Stubbs said.

Since the closure of the church back in March, Stubbs said the building has become something of an operations center for the mutual aid group, with food and supplies regularly sanitized and packaged before heading out for delivery around the South Coast.

“Nothing goes out until it is sanitized,” Stubbs said.

Nearly all of the day-to-day work is headed by coordinators Lyn Dillies and Jackie Vangel. 

Dillies noted that the outreach group has successfully collaborated with several area organizations, including other congregations who rent space at the church and the Salvation Army, which regularly donates non-perishable food items.

To add some variety to the boxes, Dillies said, they often add from their own inventory.

“Jackie and I have become very good at grocery shopping,” she said.

In addition to delivering more than 300 meals per week, often to the town’s senior living complexes, the group has also begun its own “grab and go” events at the church.

At its first event on July 7, more than 110 boxes and bags were distributed.

“It’s so wonderful that your group is doing this,” one attendee said.

Dillies said that she is just happy to be able to be able to help out people who need it most during this unprecedented time.

“It’s a lot of great teamwork bringing people together,” she said. “And that’s what this is all about.”