19 Days Of The Valley: Shop Local To Help Restock the Haven’s Food ShelfNov 14, 2022 11:28AM ● By Rose Terami
One such opportunity is the 19 Days of the Valley event, which fundraises to directly support the Upper Valley Haven. The effort is “encouraging local shopping and helping those in need at the same time,” says Dan Fraser, who started the idea by donating 1 percent of sales from his store in Norwich—Dan & Whit’s—in 2013.
Now, numerous Upper Valley businesses and community members come together for 19 days each December to help raise money to stock the Food Shelf at the Haven for the holidays. “We pull this off with planning and continued support from local businesses and a generous match from the Byrne Foundation,” Dan says.
To find out more about 19 Days, its history, and how to get involved, we’ve spoken with Dan Fraser and Laura Gillespie, director of development and communications at the Haven:
Q: What is 19 Days of the Valley?
A: 19 Days of the Valley is a holiday season fundraising initiative that shows how keeping it local and neighbors helping neighbors can make us a stronger community. Local businesses donate 1 percent of sales (or ANY amount) to support the Haven, encouraging local shopping and helping those in need at the same time.
Q: What is the history of the event?
A: One cold night in 2013, a customer visited Dan & Whit’s, grabbed a pile of basic groceries, and at the checkout, mentioned that the Haven’s Food Shelf was nearly bare, and she planned to donate the food that day. Dan Fraser decided to match that shopper’s generosity and double her food donation to the Haven. That moment sparked an idea much like the efforts of brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Newman’s Own: Dan & Whit’s could donate 1 percent of sales during the first 19 days of December to the Upper Valley Haven.
In 2013, Dan & Whit’s in Norwich began collecting food and donating a portion of their sales to the Haven when they heard the Food Shelf was in need of goods—since then, businesses and community members across the Upper Valley have come together each winter to support the Haven and people in our region struggling with poverty, hunger, and homelessness. The community shops with local businesses, local businesses donate a portion of their sales to the Haven, and the Haven provides resources for people who need a hand.
Q: When will the event take place?
A: We typically focus on the first 19 days of December, but we get a head start on Thanksgiving at the Norwich Turkey Trot because the local businesses who support this initiative could benefit from shoppers in November.
Q: Where does the event take place?
A: Online and around the Upper Valley. In the (post) pandemic world, events are less of a focus.
Q: How is the event pulled off?
A: Over time, businesses beyond Norwich joined this unique effort to help the Haven combat hunger. The generous spirit and energy throughout the Upper Valley were infectious. Year after year, we come up with innovative ideas to keep our community shopping local and giving local—and many shoppers continue this mindset beyond the holiday season.
Q: What are the main goals of the event?
A: Dan & Whit’s started challenging businesses to participate, joining us in this initiative because 1 percent isn’t much on its own, but it adds up quickly! We knew that it was difficult for individuals and businesses to donate to yet one more cause, so we encouraged each business to create what worked for them, asking customers to collect certain products or choose the size of their donation dollar amount. Plus, the local economy would benefit during the holidays. In 2013, over $10,000 was donated to the Haven from Norwich businesses. In 2021, with a $200,000 match from the Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation, the total raised was $501,922. In nine years, the 19 Days effort has raised $2,562,982!
Q: What is the significance of the event in the Upper Valley?
A: Though the project began as a way to quickly restock the Haven’s Food Shelf, the continued success of this program has truly impacted the Haven and those it serves in many ways. Many people know the Haven because of the Food Shelf, but our services go far beyond that. We provide:
- Resources and connections for people who need assistance with food, housing, health care, or other critical needs;
- Adult educational opportunities that will improve people’s lives in the future;
- Programs for local children that will help them learn and thrive at no cost to their families;
- And temporary shelter for people in the Upper Valley who are facing homelessness.
Q: How can people get involved in the event?
A: Check out the Haven’s website!