Purrrsuasive benefactor pledges to double donations to Camden food pantry

Otto the Cat issues third challenge in less than two years
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 4:00 PM EST
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CAMDEN, Maine (WABI) - The Camden Area Christian Food Pantry has until Friday, December 17th to reach its latest fundraising goal.

Every dollar donated is being matched by two dollars, up to a total of $10,000.

As Joy Hollowell reports, the anonymous benefactor behind these challenges is giving many in town “paws” for thought.


“No one has actually seen Otto.”

A cloud of mystery surrounds the Camden Area Christian Food Pantry these days.

“We’ve seen all the good that he or she does, but we don’t know who Otto is,” says Faith Vautour, Recording Secretary for the Camden Area Christian Food Pantry.

It all started in the fall of 2020.

“Someone came into the pantry one day, and there was a note tacked to the door,” explains Alex Arau, Volunteer and Board of Members Director.

The note was signed- Otto the Cat.

“Otto was willing to contribute money to the pantry,” explains Vautour. “We bought Hannaford food cards for our clients. We would give $25, $50, $75 or $100 cards based on the number of people per family and the number of times they came to the pantry.”

Several months later, another note arrived at the pantry.

“And then Otto just changed the rules of the game as cats are prone to do,” recalls Arau. “And all of a sudden, there were challenges and the challenges are increasing.”

Communications between Otto and the food pantry only happen through written letters, and these can actually be found in an envelope, taped to the door of the food pantry.”

“When Otto creates a campaign, there are ongoing communications which might be a day apart, three weeks apart, two months apart,” Arau explains.

The latest correspondence simply says “Meow” in all capital letters.

“That’s from him,” explains Arau. “That was in recognition of something we recently sent.”

So- who is Otto the Cat?

“That’s a darn good question,” says Vautour, chuckling.

“I’m assuming it’s a black cat,” adds Arau. “It blends in well.”

Amos, president of the Maine Society of Coon Cats told the Camden pantry that he is familiar with Otto. “I don’t always to to meetings,” Amos says,” but when I do, it’s with Otto. He’s cool.”

Otto signs all of his notes with a paw print. The pantry is hoping it looks fur-miliar to someone out there. They’ve even set up a link on their website for users to provide clues and tips.

“We’re hoping that somehow, somebody actually sees him,” says Vautour. “But if seeing him means we’re no longer gonna have this, well it’s worthwhile not knowing who Otto actually is.”

“It’s one of the most bizarre, wonderful things we’ve ever experienced,” adds Arau.


Again, the latest Otto the Cat Challenge ends this Friday.

You can donate online at https://www.camdenareachristianfoodpantry.org/ or mail them a check.

The food pantry welcomes all donors although they do ask dog-only lovers to be discreet.

The Camden Area Christian Food Pantry serves nine area towns as well as anyone in need. “We don’t turn anyone away,” assures Vautour.

Five local churches founded the food pantry. About 20 years ago, Charles Cawley, a well known businessman and founder of MBNA,built their current facility on Mt. Battie Street in Camden. They are open Tuesdays from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. and Thursdays from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.

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