Members Of Newtown Buy Nothing Chapter Prove There Is ‘Nothing Greater Than Love’
Until recently, Margit Johnson was unfamiliar with the Buy Nothing Project.
The international movement encourages members “to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of micro-gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors,” according to the description on the local Facebook page. Chapters are based in cities and towns around the world.
Johnson began hearing about it in September, after her friend and Newtown resident Andrea Andrew reached out to the members of the local chapter, Buy Nothing Newtown (BNN). Last Saturday afternoon, Johnson was surrounded by love — and contributions — from people in the local chapter, strangers who offered items to decorate the Little Neck, N.Y., church hall where Johnson’s bridal shower took place.
A few days after the shower, Andrew was still amazed by her fellow Newtown residents.
“I feel humbled and awed by the generosity, caring, and love the people in BNN showed Margit,” she said. Johnson is still a stranger to those who contributed items, she recognized, but nevertheless someone “whose story touched them in a way that gave them hope and joy.”
Johnson agreed. Speaking with The Newtown Bee late Wednesday afternoon, she said her shower "was a lot of fun. We all had a good time."
Locally, planning for the shower was launched on September 16.
That afternoon Andrew created a BNN Gift post — members create Gift, Request, or Gratitude posts — and asked for “bridal shower paraphernalia and a bridal veil” for a friend who reconnected about eight years ago with her high school sweetheart.
She went on to explain that Johnson and her fiancé were getting married and had not planned for a large wedding or shower. While the bride-to-be was not interested in a big shower, or games, etc, Andrew thought Johnson “needs a BIG WHOMPING bridal veil head piece to wear at her shower.
“She needs something FUN,” her post continued.
BNN members responded immediately, enthusiastically, and generously.
Last weekend their offerings helped fill the hall of the Community Church of Little Neck. Johnson was joined by 13 friends — COVID restrictions kept the group small — for a shower that was “beautiful and enjoyed by all,” Andrew said the following morning.
The Love Story
Margit Johnson and Bruce Boziwick plan to marry next month.
Now in their 70s, the two have known each other most of their lives.
“We met when I was 16 going on 17, literally, and then dated for about a year,” Johnson recently shared with The Newtown Bee.
Boziwick lived one town away from Johnson, so they went to different high schools. The two went to her high school prom together.
“Then, of course, at that age you date, and things change, and you drift apart,” Johnson said.
For 40 years there was no contact between the two. He married, then was widowed. She never married.
A few years ago she came across one of her old diaries, she said. She started wondering about a few people mentioned in that diary, including Boziwick.
“I Googled his name, and in the process of Googling his name, up came an obituary for his wife,” she said.
“I just felt so bad that this had happened. I knew her — we were friends when we were kids also — and I just felt so bad that his wife had died, and I felt this need to write a condolence letter to him,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know if that was the right thing to do, but I just felt so bad.”
She wrote that letter, but hesitated on sending it, she admitted.
It wasn’t until after talking with her best friend, who had received a letter from someone in her past, and was very happy to hear from that person, that Johnson decided to mail her letter.
Several days later she received a letter in return from Boziwick.
“It had his cell. And home number, and his e-mail, and when he would be home from work,” she said. Again, it took Johnson a few days to take the next step.
“Eventually I called him, and that was the start,” she said. “We met at a diner for coffee, and ended up sitting for three or four hours, and chatting, and that was the beginning of everything.”
The couple became engaged in June.
They are planning a “very small wedding, just with immediate family,” for December, according to Johnson. The plan has always been to keep things small, due to the pandemic.
“Hopefully next year we’ll have a bigger party to celebrate everything,” she said.
Johnson grew up in and still lives in Whitestone, N.Y., within the borough of Queens.
Andrew’s family moved to nearby Floral Heights in the ’60s. Her mother, Brenda Clinton, still lives there.
Both families have long been members of the Community Church of Little Neck, where the shower was held and where the wedding will be celebrated. The longstanding friendship between the women grew out of that common church home.
Andrew moved to Newtown nearly 30 years ago. An active member of BNN, she said one of her life goals is to gift more than she takes in.
“I don’t need things in my attic that others can use,” she said.
It was that thinking that led to Andrew’s request for help with Johnson’s bridal shower.
Within days, she received offers for everything from a crocheted life-size wedding cake, plastic doves, a veil, favor boxes, and a small flag that says Mr and Mrs.
She also received a banner declaring She Said Yes, one that said Love Lives Here, and another that said Margie’s Getting Married, as well as paper lace cupcake holders, pumpkin spice colored plastic tablecloths, organza table runners, and “mountains of white tulle,” she shared.
“People are so generous,” she said.
People were also looking for something bright after months of living under a pandemic.
“This is the kind of story 2020 needs,” Alexandra Clarke commented on Johnson’s original post in September.
Many people said they loved the story. Others gave it a thumbs up or heart emoticon in response to Johnson’s post. While many offered items, Elisa Beasley said she thought “we would all like to be a part of this somehow.”
Andrew was pleasantly surprised, she said, at the responses.
“There were a lot of very sweet, poignant comments,” she said. “I believe that it’s not about how people want to help her, but rather become a part of and share in her story and celebration.”
The Bridal Shower
Despite all the work she put into making the shower special for her friend, Andrew decided last week that she would not be attending the event.
A teacher with a few COVID cases in the school where she works, Andrew felt that attending a bridal shower in another state “would not be the right thing to do,” she said November 3. Additionally, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was discouraging nonessential travel between his state and Connecticut due to increasing numbers of COVID cases.
Fortunately, Andrew had already been able to deliver all the decorations collected through BNN to her mother.
“I showed her everything so she’d have an idea of how to set up,” Andrew said this week. “She and four friends set everything up.”
November 7 was a beautiful day. Warm, sunny, and bright, it was a lovely day for a celebration.
The bride-to-be, Andrew’s mother, and 12 additional people gathered in Chapel Hall of church to celebrate the impending nuptials.
The bride wore a veil, the hall was decorated to the nines, and many people were also there in spirit.
‘Nothing Greater Than Love’
Kelly Moody was among those who responded to Andrew’s BNN post in September. She donated “a ton of tulle” left over from her son’s wedding, she said November 9.
She had the tulle available — “it’s just about giving back to the community,” she noted — but Moody also connected to the story Andrew shared in the initial post.
“I have a sister who was left a widow at age 36,” Moody shared. “She raised her four children on her own. Four years ago she reconnected on Facebook with her prom date and they have been happily married for two years now.
“First loves are the best,” she said.
Alexandra Radachowsky also participated in the BNN collection. Radachowsky felt compelled to respond to Andrew’s wish, she said, because the Buy Nothing movement is beneficial for anyone involved.
“Whether you wish for something or offer something, everybody really helps each other,” she said this week.
Without hesitation, Radachowsky offered a bridal veil to Andrew’s collection.
“It was from my bachelorette party, and I felt it was a great thing to pass on and give to someone who can make use of it,” she said Monday afternoon.
“Her whole story is beautiful,” she added. “I was happy to be able to hand that over and have her be able to use it.”
Karen Carollo also jumped at the opportunity to be part of something so positive.
Carollo, who donated a pair of pink table runners, said being even “a small part of the story made me happy.
“In my own heart, there is nothing greater than love,” she added. “To see this display of love reconnected all these years later, and a community comes together to support them, this to me is what living a happy life is all about.”
Now that the shower has been held, the decorations will again be gifted forward. That was part of Andrew’s plan from the onset.
“I’m going to put all the items back up on Buy Nothing Newtown and regift them again,” she said.
That’s what already happened with the crocheted wedding cake. BNN member Monica O’Brien received it last year from LeReine Frampton.
“I got the cake from Buy Nothing Newtown when I was helping several friends get their weddings together,” O’Brien said this week. “Glad to see it continue its journey.”
She and others get to keep their memories, however.
“When I picked up an item, one person told me that giving something for Margit’s shower made her feel as if she’s now part of this wonderful story, too,” Andrew said November 10. “As one commenter said, ‘Love is all we need. It is the universal tie to all of us.”