The Grasshopper Shop of Rockland will celebrate its 45th anniversary Friday, Sept. 18  and Sunday, Sept. 20, with a sale and fundraiser for Area Interfaith Outreach (AIO).

Customers can support AIO by purchasing balloons at $10 each. A variety of mystery prizes and discounts will be found inside the balloons. All proceeds from balloon sales go directly to AIO’s Weekend Meal Program.

Founded in 1975, the Grasshopper Shop of Rockland is a family-run business. Now in its second generation, the business is currently owned by Sierra Dietz. Over the decades, there have been Grasshopper Shop locations in Belfast, Camden, Bangor, Ellsworth, Searsport, Stonington and Bar Harbor, all owned and operated by family members. The other location still in operation is the Grasshopper Shop of Searsport, located at 27 East Main St.

Dietz believes it is important to support the community during these difficult times.

“Over the last 45 years, our family business has worked hard to support many non-profits in the Midcoast as we feel it is a critical part of our mission. This year marks the 30th anniversary of AIO so it seemed a fitting time to incorporate their work into our anniversary celebration,” stated Dietz.

AIO is a volunteer-run organization whose mission is to support those in need in Knox County with food and energy assistance. AIO launched the Weekend Meal Program in 2015 (formerly known as the Backpack Program), to provide nutritious food to children and families on weekends when school meals aren’t available. On average 340 school-age children and their families participate in the program.

Feeding America and Good Shepherd Food Bank recently announced that Maine’s rate of hunger is projected to grow by as much as 40% in 2020. Knox County has the fourth highest rate in the state, with food insecurity projected to increase 46% overall.

Knox County’s rate of childhood food insecurity is projected to increase by 52%, with one in four kids experiencing hunger.

To learn more about AIO’s programs and to donate, visit aiofoodpantry.org.

Connect with the Grasshopper Shop by calling 596-6156 or by visiting grasshoppershopofrockland.com.