People Helping People began in the late 70's when a volunteer from a local church in Burlington saw the need for basic assistance within our own community. His outreach began by handing out Thanksgiving baskets of food from the American Legion Hall in town. He also gave gifts to needy children at Christmas as the Burlington Santa. As word of his efforts grew so did the need. Another volunteer was recruited to take over as the Burlington Santa, and in 1980, a third volunteer began the Community Pantry. The pantry, operating out of the Congregational Church basement, supplied donated food to Burlington residents who were in need of food all year long, not just around the holidays. The activities of People Helping People were funded largely by the Congregational Church’s Deacon’s Fund. The Congregational Church continues to be one of our largest contributors.
In 1981, the Burlington police found a mother and two children living out of a car. The Burlington Clergy Association was told about situation and made an immediate decision to help, not only this family, but others like them.
They established the Burlington Covenant for Basic Needs and turned to the Burlington Community Life Center to centralize the screen and funding process.
In the early days, funds were provided mainly by houses of worship in town represented by the Burlington Clergy Association. As the need for emergency help grew in town, so did the organization. In 1988, these few volunteers incorporated People Helping People as an umbrella organization combining the Burlington Community Pantry, the Covenant for Basic Needs and the Burlington Santa, or Holiday Program as it is known today.