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Budding business helps philanthropy bloom

By Danielle Paine

Reminder Assistant Editor

Her message is simple: Forget me not.

What began as a packet of seeds for Forget Me Not flowers, has blossomed into a theme for Nancy Bosques-Levesque's quarterly food drives for hungry families.

Through giving away packets of these seeds in exchange for non-perishable foods, she hopes to remind the community to not forget the needy by donating canned goods to the Emergency Food Pantry of Open Pantry Community Services Inc., where those who need it can receive free groceries.

"We're giving out something so that people can remember where they got it from and why they got it and later, think back on donating," Bosques-Levesque said.

Bosques-Levesque said she originally got the idea for the seed packets when she thought about the promotions in her work with the Keller-Williams group of Longmeadow. Concepts like this one are just a part of marketing to remind people of something. In this case, she is reminding people of those in need.

She held the first of these drives in March during three-days in the City Cafe of Tower Square. In total, she collected about 200 pounds of food. Her next drives will be the weeks before Memorial day, Labor Day and sometime in November.

"There is such a large population here in Springfield that really are in need, not only for the food we provide but also for shelter," Bosques-Levesque said. "I just couldn't go without doing something and giving something back to the community."

Executive Director of the Open Pantry, Kevin Noonan, said that he is grateful for these smaller drives held by regular citizens, especially now when the pantry is in between major annual fundraisers and supplies are dwindling fast.

"You have a community that wants to help but we are bombarded by messages for everything," Noonan said. "So when you get a gimmick like this, it is a great way to generate interest for people to do what they wanted to do in the first place, which is to help people."

These small-scale efforts done by regular people are like drops in a bucket, Noonan said. Eventually, enough drops will fill it.

"We definitely are a society that can provide that one little can of non-perishable food," she said. "We can do it and just one can per person will feed many."