Donations Continue Thanks To One-Woman Bottle & Can Drive
Betty Presnell’s latest donation to FAITH Food Pantry (FFP) — done thanks to ongoing support from dozens of others — continues an effort to fill the pantry’s shelves that was launched at the beginning of the pandemic.
As clients visited FFP Tuesday morning to pick up food, cleaning supplies, and/or pet supplies offered by the nonecumenical organization, Presnell and her son Michael handed a pair of envelopes containing $201.05 to FFP President Lee Paulsen and Vice President Jill LeBlanc.
Since last July, Presnell has raised more than $6,000 for local organizations, one nickel at a time, by operating a one-woman bottle and can drive. The collection began as a way for the president of the Nunnawauk Meadows Residents Association (NMRA) to make up for the cancellation last year of that group’s largest annual fundraiser. It morphed into something that has also benefitted the town’s food pantry and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Presnell became president of the NMRA in January 2020. Less than two months later, she faced a daunting challenge: what to do for fundraising after the group’s 2020 event was canceled.
For many years, the association has hosted a two-day tag/bake sale that funds the general NMRA account used to pay for guest speakers and programs.
Presnell put out a call for donations of returnable bottles and cans through social media, and the response has been steady since then. She raised $1,500 through bottle and can returns — the same amount NMRA’s fundraiser averages — so she kept collecting, redeeming, and donating.
This week’s donation to FFP put the cumulative contributions to that group at $2,688.60.
Her overall collections — including the funds presented to NMRA and JDRF — have passed $6,000, she said Tuesday morning.
When LeBlanc thanked Presnell for the latest donation to the pantry, Presnell smiled.
“It makes me feel good to do this,” she said.
To drop off returnable bottles or cans, visit 1D Nunnawauk Meadows. From Nunnawauk Road, use the second entrance into the complex (driving behind the community building); at the gazebo, look to the right (toward the east-southeast).
Returnables should be clean and rinsed, and may be left near her door. Presnell has not received any complaints about an unsightly collection from neighbors, she said, because she does not leave cans and bottles resting long.
“I don’t let them pile up,” she told The Newtown Bee in January. “If I get the back of my car full, I go redeem them. I don’t let them accumulate, so there is not issue with a mess at Nunnawauk, and I just want to keep things going.”
Depending on the day and the donations, Presnell has occasionally been to Big Y World Class Market or Stop & Shop as many as four times in one day.
“They know me by now,” she said with a laugh.
Associate Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.