Thu, Nov. 21

Green bag volunteer takes VOC over top with August collection

Jim Gibson and Eddie Gibson, neighborhood coordinators, get one of Penny Mathewson's green bags.

Jim Gibson and Eddie Gibson, neighborhood coordinators, get one of Penny Mathewson's green bags.

The Village of Oak Creek has not only been the pioneer in the area’s green bag food collection program, but its food donors have also tipped the scales with more pounds of food collected and volunteers than any other collection site in the Verde Valley.

At the Aug. 10 collection, the VOC’s 28 neighborhood coordinators collected 5,395 pounds of non-perishable food for local food pantries supported by the Verde Valley Neighborhood Food Project.

One reason, according to those most familiar with the community, may be due to one neighborhood’s exceptionally committed donors, Penny Mathewson.

Mathewson joined as a green bag food donor in 2014 when she heard about the program and felt a need to give back to those who are needy. “I have been blessed with much,” she says, “many people have nothing.”

Before moving to Sedona, she had lived in the Palm Springs area, volunteering at a food bank and making lunches for seniors.

A native Southern Californian who spent much of her life in Pasadena, she served as a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing in a public high school for 37 years.

She and her husband, who passed in 1989, were both teachers and did not have any children of their own.

She moved to the VOC in 2011, and her “family” now includes a dachshund/terrier mix and wonderful neighbors and friends. In her spare time, she likes to garden, volunteer, read, take ceramics classes, and travel.

Why is she so dedicated to the green bag program, and why does she give so much? Matheson counts her dog as her only dependent. “She doesn’t eat a lot. I feel I have a responsibility to help others. I give more because I can afford to do so. I’m very, very, very grateful that I can do that. I have all that I need for myself. It’s time to share what I can with others.”

In addition, she notes that she is concerned that many people are working more than one job, or even three or four jobs, just to have housing, food, clothing, and medical care.

“They have no time to LIVE,” she says. “It is not good for any nation to have so many people living like that,” counting kids and seniors as among the most vulnerable because they cannot care for themselves.

While the green bag program encourages food donors to fill up their bags by buying one or two extra items each time they go shopping, Matheson notes that she mostly buys in bulk at Sam’s Club. She also looks for sales in local stores, finding bargains on canned goods or boxed items.

For more information about becoming a green bag program food donor or neighborhood coordinator, visit or call Nicole Davis at (928) 301-2814.

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