(Burlington, VT) - Strangers Helping Strangers, the fan-based organization supporting and supported by the Burlington, VT based jamband Strangefolk, announces today the launch of their new home on the Internet: SHStrangers.org. Strangers Helping Strangers (SHS) collects non-perishable food at Strangefolk concerts and donates them to charities local to the venues where Strangefolk performs.
Until recently, SHS events have been isolated to concerts within New England due to the traveling limitations of the volunteers involved. However, in response to popular demand, Strangers Helping Strangers has recently added several new volunteers to run events throughout the Northeast as well as in the Mid-Atlantic states. In addition to the new SHStrangers.org web site, this geographic expansion marks a milestone in the philanthropic group's 5-year history. Strangers Helping Stranger’s plans for the future involve seeking official 501(c)(3) non-profit status.
Strangers Helping Stranger’s origin dates back to 1997 when Strangefolk invited Vermont's Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf to collect donations at their Independence Day and Halloween concerts, both held in the Green Mountain State. Tina Campbell and Kat Harless, two traveling fans of the band, saw an opportunity to not only help needy individuals in the New England cities Strangefolk visits, but to bolster the reputation and distinction of the growing community of fans and friends surrounding the band each year. Following a trial-run food drive at Strangefolk's 4th Annual Garden of Eden Festival over Labor Day weekend in 1998, Strangers Helping Strangers held it’s first official event as an organization during a concert at the State Theater in Portland, ME on February 6, 1999. The event was a great success, and since that date, Strangers Helping Strangers has collected over 10,000 items at Strangefolk concerts throughout the northeast region.
The largest event for Strangers Helping Strangers takes place each year at the aforementioned Garden of Eden Festival, a 2-day camp out concert Strangefolk holds each year as a thank you to their loyal, road-tripping fan base. Since 1998, over 3,000 items have been raised for the Addison County Food Shelf, the charity closest to the concert site. For this year’s Eden festival (charity, date and location TBA), Strangers Helping Strangers is setting its most ambitious goal yet -- to collect over 4,000 items for charity in one single event!
In the years since Strangers Helping Strangers began, co-Founder Kat Harless has moved on to pursue a career outside of the band, but Tina Campbell still remains on board with SHS in an advisory capacity, as most of her time is now devoted to Strangefolk's publicity efforts. In December of 2001, Tina appointed veteran volunteer Marc Drouin as Director and Event Coordinator for Strangers Helping Strangers. "I knew that SHS deserved more time and effort than I could to put into it," Tina commented, "Marc has been my right-hand man since day one, from working the table to organizing our Wiffle Ball Challenges at Eden and everything in between. There was no question in my mind who would have the vision and drive necessary to take Strangers Helping Strangers to the next level".
The primary goal of Strangers Helping Strangers is to become a family of Strangefolk fans organizing events and collecting food at every Strangefolk concert throughout the nation. While this may seem quite ambitious for such a small and humble organization, Strangers Helping Strangers feels that through the love and passion of the band and their fans, it is within reach and only a few short years away.
Please feel free to visit the new SHS website at http://www.SHStrangers.org. If you would like to contact Strangers Helping Strangers with any questions or comments, email Marc Drouin, Director and Event Coordinator at marc@SHStrangers.org.