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Despite closed doors, Cooperage continues to serve

A nonprofit organization in Wayne County that provides after school activities for students is getting creative during social distancing.

HONESDALE, Pa. — At the Cooperage Project on Main Street in Honesdale, a sign on the front door reads, "We love our Community," but the door is closed and locked, indefinitely. However, the window is open. Arrah Fisher, the Interim Executive Director of the Cooperage Project says, "We're just here to help in any way that we can, as a nonprofit community hub that can't really hub right now, how can we connect those dots and give the community what they need?"

The Cooperage Project is partnering with the Wayne Highlands School District for the next few weeks. While schools are closed, this will be one location where anyone under the age of 18 can pick up a free lunch, no questions asked. 

Lakeside Elementary School Principal, Sandy Rickard, says, "Kids really rely on it. We have students that have all three meals at school every day, so us being able to provide two meals a day is going to be outstanding for everyone."

The Cooperage Project does this in the summer, too. So when Governor Wolf announced statewide school closures, board members thought it was a no-brainer. There are three other pick up locations at schools throughout Wayne County. 

"The more locations we have, the better we can get to the kids. We know there's a lot of need right here in town, walking distance, we're up on the hill at Honesdale High School. Trying to get up there is a little more difficult, we know this is a central location," says Wayne Highlands School District's Food Service Director, Ryne Spaulding.

There are usually after school programs three days a week at the Cooperage Project, so while those have to be canceled, for now, board members hope this is a good way for families to at least get some fresh air. 

"It is a way for us to get out of the house. I just saw someone coming in; it's a normal person we see here in the summer when we come. We said, oh, the crew is here," says Kenneth Platt of Honesdale.

And the Cooperage Project doesn't want to just stop with lunches.

"The Cooperage Project is trying to reinvent itself in these challenging times and bring our programming virtually to social media and such, so we're hoping in the next coming days to be able to put some of our programs online," says Fisher.

The meals will change each day and will be available from 11 to 1, Monday through Friday, at least for the next two weeks.