Hello Neighbor | Carol Claypoole, Everyday Hero

Living on the Main Line, it's easy to look around at all of our beautiful neighborhoods and think that everyone here lives with financial and food security.  Our community has people in need, just like any other.  Carol Claypoole started a food cupboard at the Baptist Church in the Great Valley several years ago and has been a dedicated leader and volunteer there  since it opened.  Carol's concern for people is deep and beautiful and she serves at the Great Valley Food Cupboard with a generous heart and soul.

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I have lived in T/E my whole life.  I went to Hillside School.  I went to T/E Jr High, Conestoga High School and I actually still live in the house that I was born and raised in.  I’ve been here a long time.  My childhood was fantastic.  I had great friends, we always had animals in our house,  I had great parents.  It was a very happy childhood.  My favorite homemade meal growing up was shepherd’s pie.  My mom made me shepherd’s pie with ground beef and mushroom soup and mashed potatoes on the top.  That was my favorite.

I started volunteering when I was in high school at a food cupboard and I’ve been at it ever since.  When I first thought about starting a food cupboard in 2012 I discussed it with Sandi Gorman at T&E Care and we both agreed that there was need for a cupboard in this area.  Sandi was a big help with getting us started, as were other churches in the area.  Our primary mission is feeding families in the Tredyffrin Easttown and Great Valley School Districts and just being supportive to help families and folks to get back up on their feet.

I can see how our work really affects people's attitudes.  We allow folks to have a decision on what they choose out of the cupboard, what they pick, and I think folks are going through a very difficult time and don’t have a lot of choices in their life.  I think coming here they can pick what they want, there’s some control over what they have and I think that’s been important to people.  Their lives are spiraling out of control and I’ve seen people come in the first time - they’re just beaten down.  Then after several months I see how we really help people get back up into living normal - as normal a life as they can.  

My role at the GVFC is to serve as the manager of the cupboard.  You might be surprised to learn that we have over 125 families that we’re helping.  I think people in this area don’t know there’s a real need for it.  The first day we started we had 5 families come, and now 5 years later we’re up to over 125.  Actually, if you take the total number of individuals that we feed it’s over 500, you know, with each family.  I think that’s really surprising.  I’m even surprised by that number.  I hope that the food cupboard can continue to help all of the hungry people.  I get kinda teary eyed about that.  My hope would be that the food cupboard continues with the great support from the community.

In my free time I love to go beach combing and look for sea glass and just enjoy the ocean and nature.  I love nature.  I go to New Castle down in Delaware - Battery Park Beach.  I also like to go to flea markets and to go people watching.  I am inspired by nature, animals, birds, the outdoors.  

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Photography and interview by Emily Brunner Photography

To find out more about the Great Valley Food Cupboard in Devon, PA visit   www.bcgv.org/outreach/foodcupboard
To find out more about T&E Care visit www.tecare.org