Pantry outgrows space

Community Featured

What started out as a single, generous donation has taken flight and turned into a growing movement.

Last month, the Pictou County Continuous Learning Association (PiCCoLA) was the beneficiary of a $300 donation from Amanda MacIntosh and her music students, proceeds from their Christmas recital. The money was earmarked for PiCCoLA’s Pantry.

Before that donation, the Pantry was really just a shelf in a closet tucked away at the end of the hallway at PiCCoLA’s new offices on Archimedes Street in New Glasgow which they rent from Jamie MacGillivray who, they say, has been “wonderful” to deal with. Now, it has spread to an entire room filled with shelves stocked with non-perishable food items, personal care items and gently used clothing.

Deanna Ferguson, program manager and part-time instructor explained how it all came
about: “We noticed that there was a lot of bartering going on with the students. Since you
can only visit the food bank once a month, we found some of our students would receive
items that weren’t really of much use to them, or they received more of something than they needed, so they would bring it in and trade with someone else. The students are all very generous with each other.”

Carollynne Nemecek, executive director, also credits Amanda MacIntosh, who happens to be a sister of Audrey Macdonald, one of the instructors.

“Amanda and her music students and their generous donation for the Pantry is what really
got us going.”

A quick glance at the freshly painted wooden shelves shows jars of peanut butter and spreadable cheese products lined up with, pasta, soup, water, canned soup and veggies all sharing shelf space with paper products, cereals and other staples.

“We used Amanda’s donation during a BOGO (buy oneget one) week to make the money stretch further,” smiles Nemecek.

“This is exciting for them because they get to contribute to it themselves,” Ferguson smiles.
“And it’s not charity.”

She noted, “The food banks are already heavily taxed so this should really help them out. We see it as complementing the services they already provide or helping them out, not replacing them.”

Also located in the same room as the Pantry is a corner dedicated to the school’s Dress
for Success offerings. Donated gently used items of business clothing is neatly hung up on clothing racks and dress shoes line the floor. There is space for warm winter coats and scarves. In another spot is a mirror and personal grooming items which the students can take advantage of before they go out on job interviews.

“We want to make them feel good about themselves and look good. That’s our job,”
Ferguson said.

Many local businesses are supportive of PiCCoLA’s students and are willing take them on job placements, Nemecek said. She listed, Glen Haven Manor, Giant Tiger, Central Supplies and Swiss Chalet all as being local businesses that see the value in the work PiCCoLa does and in its students who are trying to change their lives for the better. “They are all very supportive with placements,” Nemecek lauded.

Anyone wanting to make a donation to PiCCoLA’s Pantry or Dress for Success is welcome to do so. Call 902-485-7014 or 902-755-5827 or visit the non-profit organization’s website at They also have a Facebook presence.

Cora-Lee O’Laney of Westville accepts a can of veggies from fellow student Shelby Marshall, also of Westville, as they work to unpack a donation for PiCCoLA’s Pantry. (Jardine photo)


ABC’s of PiCCoLA

• Pictou County Continuous Learning Association (PiCCoLA) opened its doors in 1996 to offer literacy and numeracy skills to adults.
• PiCCoLA is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing literacy, education and employment for the adult population in Pictou County.
• PiCCoLA’s mission is to provide academic upgrading in Levels 1 & 2 of the NS Adult Learning Program, Pre-GED and GED preparation, as well as employability programs for adults of Pictou County. This will allow participants to develop lifelong learning so as to participate more fully at home, at work and in the community.
• PiCCoLA offers part-time day, full day and evening classes from mid-September to the end of May in New Glasgow, Stellarton and Pictou.
• PiCCoLA believes that every adult should have an equal opportunity to an education.
• The organization exists only because of the support of the people of Pictou County.
• PiCCoLA is funded for students to attend part time from September to May. It offers continual intakes — this means new students are accepted throughout the year. Its main funding comes from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

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