Deep River Bookstore Creates Community Refrigerators in Area Towns

DEEP RIVER – A Sylvantide Self-Help Center is forming at Bennett’s Books with the goal of creating free community refrigerators and food pantries in each of the area’s towns.

These will complement the Freedge and Little Free Pantry in operation in the store, establishing a cash relief fund, creating free clothing sheds and providing small service projects, such as yard work for the elderly at low income and disabled, according to a press release issued by owner Colin Bennett.

“Nearly two years into a global pandemic that has negatively affected so many of us, far too many people are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet,” he said.

“Mutual aid is not charity, it is solidarity; they are neighbors helping each other, and that is paramount to building community,” Bennett said in a prepared statement. “We have a relatively strong social services system in the region, so the idea is to meet needs that would not otherwise be covered.”

As an example, if someone misses $200 in rent, the mutual aid network would ideally be able to cover that, perhaps with 20 people offering $10, Bennett said. “When that person’s financial situation improves, they are expected to help someone else in difficulty. Or, perhaps, rather than reciprocating with money, the person who received rental assistance is donating time or services to someone else in need.

“I love our local group because not only has it helped me connect in a new city during COVID (we moved here at the end of 2018 with a young child, so social interactions were a challenge), it helped reduce our reliance on a consumer- and capital-based market,” Chester resident Lisa Tucker said in the press release.

“It’s really important these days to reevaluate our priorities in terms of how money is spent: both in terms of our own budget as a family and who our money supports. If we have the opportunity to give and receive items locally, outside of a consumer-based market, is a win-win,” she added.

“Mutual aid helps bridge the gaps that people go through. for all the systems in place to help those in need, there are always so many places stopping help,” Middletown resident Dmitri D’Alessandro, owner of Middletown Framing, said in the statement. “Administrative functionality, missing IDs, whatever the case, we as a community can choose to create spaces and systems that help those who need it most, with the quickest methods.”

To help, visit or Sylvantide Mutual Aid on Facebook. For more information, visit

Karl M. Bailey