The 19 Days of Norwich
How Dan Fraser helped to make the holidays a lot merrier for those at the Haven.
One day a customer walked into Dan and Whits and approached Dan Fraser, the store’s co-owner. She let him know about the shelves at the Haven and how low the stock was. She explained how despite her efforts to give it wasn’t nearly enough to help the people there, The Haven needed much more. To help get a sense of how desperate they were, the members of the Haven were referring to their milk as “liquid gold,” and the few donations the Haven did receive were taken and used immediately.
Dan, one of the managers at Dan and Whits, being a very generous and humble person who always has an eye for his community, immediately looked for a way to contribute. Dan spent lots of time and energy and was able to come up with the “19 Days of Norwich” based off an idea from Newman’s Own and Ben and Jerry’s. Dan was able to gather almost all of the small businesses in Norwich to donate 1% of all their sales. Starting on the 1st of December through the 19th, Dan gets the Haven prepared for a very Merry Christmas. This drive also encourages shopping at local businesses during the holiday season, and encourages people from other towns to come to Norwich to help solve the issue of hunger and shop for a great cause.
The Haven is a private, non-profit organization that serves the needy in the Upper Valley, providing food, shelter, education, clothing and support. The Haven was founded in 1980 by five men from the Parishes of St. Paul’s and St. James’ in White River and Woodstock. They wanted to take a broken down farm that was for sale, and turn it into a nice facility to help give back to the needy.
Recently, the Haven felt an increase in need after Hurricane Irene hit the Upper Valley causing severe damage to many people’s homes leaving them with nowhere to go. These people had lost much of what they own, and needed something to help get them back on their feet. More volunteers and more money were needed to go to the Haven in order for them to keep up with all of the people waiting for help. Although it’s three years later, the Upper Valley still feels the effects of Irene and poverty. People are still in need of shelter and food. In 2014, in just 19 days of December, the Haven raised $156,000 from the community alone, including $75,000 from the Byrne Foundation and 9,533 pounds of food. Not just this, but Director of Development and Communications at the Haven’s Liz Verney said, “The most important part about it is the awareness of the Haven and its programs it has created in Norwich and all of the Upper Valley. And, the feeling of not being alone as we try to help SO many people in need during the winter.” This year the Byrne Foundation will be matching up to $80,000 in donations.
Norwich is a small town of less than 3,500 people. One wouldn’t expect it to be a town that makes as huge an impact on the surrounding community as it does. Dan believes that Dan and Whits may be one of the only stores in the whole country that donates 1% of all it’s sales to charity, and just that 1% goes a long way. Liz Verney said in regard to how it has changed the Haven and how the donations have been coming in, “The 19 Days of Norwich shows the power in numbers, and is most special because everyone can participate in a way that is comfortable to them. If someone can’t give money, they can give food, or volunteer time. It is a very special effort.” If you are thinking about doing a little more holiday shopping yourself, try stopping by Dan and Whits, just spending a little makes a big difference in someone else’s life thanks to Dan and Whits and the town of Norwich.