South Charlotte

Common Heart celebrates its 5th anniversary

Those who need help buying groceries - and those who want to give it - can find common ground in Indian Trail.

The nonprofit organization Common Heart brings the two together through Common Cupboard, a food pantry. About 100 Common Cupboard volunteers deliver donated groceries to 200 area families every month, says Executive Director Keith Adams.

On July 30, Common Heart will celebrate its five-year anniversary with a festival that will use cans of food as a kind of currency to fill the shelves at its new, larger location at 116 Business Park Drive.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the charity is hosting The Commonplace Festival, featuring music by Mount Zion (southern gospel), McKinley Sanford (blues saxophone) and Dan Hood & Friends (contemporary).

There also will be games with prizes, a hay ride and inflatables for kids to enjoy.

Those who bring a bag of canned food will get 10 tickets they can redeem for hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and drinks.

The Common Things Thrift Store, also part of the Common Heart charity, is hosting a sidewalk sale beginning at 8 a.m.

Another attraction will be Pringles the goose and other birds from Carolina Waterfowl Rescue (CWR), an organization that has an interesting connection with Common Cupboard: In exchange for produce and other food that has started to go bad and would otherwise be thrown out (but still palatable to birds), CWR provides Common Cupboard eggs laid by its chickens, geese and other birds.

It's an arrangement that works well for everyone, Adams says, and Common Cupboard clients really appreciate the fresh eggs.

Other food donations come from individuals, churches, Second Harvest Food Bank and local grocery stores, including Bi-Lo and Trader Joe's.

Adams, who has a background in Christian ministries, and his wife, Debra, started Common Heart in July 2006 with two of their friends, Barbara Chandler and Harry Walden.

"Our desire was not to create a new institution with red tape, lines and invasive questions," he said.

News of the ministry spread and they started delivering groceries to people they heard were facing difficult times. Sometimes the people in need called to ask for help. Other times, Adams and his team learned of a need from someone seeking help for a friend or neighbor. Social service agencies passed their contact information to people they couldn't help.

Thanksgiving is a particularly busy time at Common Cupboard. Last year, about 150 volunteers helped distribute 450 turkeys to homes all over Union County and beyond, Debra Adams says.

Adams and his family have experienced some of same fears as Common Heart's clients. He lost his job last October and has gone back to school, taking classes at CPCC in addition to working as a full-time volunteer at Common Heart.

He and his fellow volunteers have been rewarded by seeing Common Heart grow as it helps those in need. In April, when they moved to their new location, they also opened The Common Things Thrift Store to raise more money for the mission and provide a community resource for inexpensive items.

Adams says they would like to expand their mission even further by performing chores or other services for senior citizens or others needing help. And he hopes Common Cupboard will be selected to distribute food through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).

Whatever changes at Common Heart, one thing will remain the same:

"Someone who's hungry, who calls and asks for food, I'm going to help," Adam says.