CAMDEN — While the identity of Otto the Cat remains a mystery, his generosity has been on full display. Otto is the anonymous benefactor who established a recent challenge to benefit the Camden Area Christian Food Pantry. Otto offered to donate $2 for every $1 raised, up to a total of $10,000, for a set period in December 2021. The response was phenomenal with donations continuing even after the Challenge had ended.

Meanwhile, the stealthy Otto purchased $8,000 worth of Hannaford Gift Cards for Camden Area Christian Food Pantry to distribute to their clients. Distribution began the week of Christmas, and thus far, more than $7,300 of the gift cards have been given to those in need.

In true holiday spirit, Otto’s Challenge led to other wonderful initiatives. An anonymous donor who liked the idea of the Hannaford Gift Card campaign, contacted the Camden Area Christian Food Pantry, and donated $5,000 to be used on gift cards when Otto’s donation runs out. The CACFP Board of Directors learned of plans by a group at Camden Hills Regional High School to give food baskets to families in need during the holidays and appropriated $3,000 to the purchase of Hannaford Gift Cards to be included in the baskets. One client, who writes a thank you note every week to the Food Pantry, was especially appreciative of the extra items she could purchase with the gift card for her family of three.

What’s the best part of the Otto Challenge? “It’s the heartfelt appreciation our clients have for this little extra “money” for groceries, especially with food prices going up,” said CACFP Board Member Faith Vautour. “One woman held the gift card to her heart and simply said ‘Thank you.’” Vautour credits Otto not only with the challenge (now in its third iteration) but with the useful incorporation of Hannaford Gift Cards. “We’re so grateful to Otto for his continued generosity and support of the Camden Area Christian Food Pantry and our clients.”

Camden Area Christian Food Pantry is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving residents of Appleton, Camden, Hope, Islesboro, Lincolnville, Rockport, Searsmont, Union, Washington, and others in need. To learn more about Camden Area Christian Food Pantry, visit camdenpantry.org or facebook.com/CamdenFoodPantry.