Sofia Payne wanted to do something different for Lent this year.
Sure, she could have given up watching TV or eating chocolate, but the 6th grader at St. John Regional School felt it was important to use it as a way to help others.
“We’re always talking about the ways we can make a difference in our communities,” Payne said of her school.
And what better way then to help the Friendly Kitchen. Payne first thought of a food drive, but quickly realized that a lot of folks do food drives for Concord’s soup kitchen. Yet she still wanted to do something.
“Anyone can end up in a bad situation, and what if that was me,” Payne said. “So it’s really nice there’s a place like this in Concord.”
She then thought about making T-shirts, but then she would have to deal with getting different colors and sizes and it seemed too complicated.
Then when poking around the Custom Ink website for ideas, she found it – travel coffee mugs. Since she’s 12 and doesn’t have a lot of money, Payne asked her mom, Tara, for a loan to buy the mugs.
“At first, I was thinking there are less expensive ways to do something for Lent,” Tara said.
But she agreed to help her daughter purchase 125 blue travel mugs featuring the slogan “Serve One Another” with the Friendly Kitchen wesbite, a heart and a crossing fork and spoon. Payne designed it all herself and chose blue because “everyone probably likes the color blue.”
About a month ago, Payne embarked on her goal of selling all 125 cups and as of last week, there were only about a third remaining. The cups cost $10 each with $6.20 going to the Friendly Kitchen and the rest going to cover the initial investment and pay her mom back.
“At first people were surprised it was $10, but then they found out what it was for,” Payne said.
Payne has gone door to door in her neighborhood, sold a few at school and you might even see her around a certain big community event coming up.
But the bulk of the remaining sales will happen at the Friendly Kitchen, so if you’re in need of a new travel mug for your morning coffee or just want to help out, keep reading for how to get one.
And even though she’s only in 6th grade and doesn’t have much money, she plans on adding $25 of her own money to the donation total to make it an even $800.
While it was an expensive upfront cost for Tara, she’s happy with her daughter’s initiative and creativity.
“I think she’s learned a lot from this experience,” Tara said. “And you can’t put a price tag on that.”
As for Friendly Kitchen Director Tricia Foisey, any boost the organization can get is greatly accepted.
“All donations are great,” Foisey said. “It’s almost refreshing that it’s not another food drive. And you never say no to something that’s creative and giving.”
Cups can be purchased at the Friendly Kitchen when staff are there, Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can call ahead or just show up. You can also message them on Facebook.
Visit thefriendlykitchen.org for more.