A basic rule of thumb for successful business is, find a niche and fill it. The same goes for nonprofits.

A basic rule of thumb for successful business is, find a niche and fill it.

The same goes for nonprofits.

One such store in Shawnee clearly hit its mark as soon as it opened in July — and is showing no signs of slowing.

In just five months the Community Market of Pottawatomie County has served 25,706 people in its food resource store at 120 S. Center in Shawnee.

Few can boast of such productivity in so short a time.

The nonprofit opened with the goal of literally filling a need in the county — hungry mouths.

“We have had great response from community volunteers,” Community Market Director Daniel Matthews said.

“Everyone's schedule gets busy around the holidays,” he said, “so we always welcome new people joining us in the effort to make sure there is food on every table in our community for dinner.”

Whether it is individuals, school groups, work groups or church groups, Matthews said, there is always a way to serve with the store.

He said the center works hard to order enough food and stay on budget.

“The end of the month is always busier for us,” he said, “as need grows and people's benefits and assistance runs out, but we have seen an increase in need.”

Since the Friday before Thanksgiving the center has served 782 families, he said.

He said he anticipates the same type of increase in need for December.

“We are estimating it will take nearly 150,000 pounds of food to fill the need,” Matthews said.

He said he expects December to be the store's largest month since the center opened.

Obviously, that is more difficult with an increase in demand, he said.

“We could even see an increase in need as families use financial resources they do have to purchase gifts for loved ones,” he said.

Matthews said the store has an outstanding partner in the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, that is committed to helping them serve the community.

He said the nonprofit also relies on a combination of grants and community partners donating.

“We would like to get to the point where we are funded from community partnerships (be it private or business donations) and use grants to start and fund new programs,” Matthews said.

As a way to maximize the benefits of giving during the holidays, right now, the resource center is offering Christmas cards for $25 each.

“They can be bought in honor of someone,” Matthews said. “Each card provides 75 meals to local families.” That means each card provides food for around five families for December, he said.

“Many people like to do this at the office or for family members,” he said.

With each card purchased, the store also puts an ornament on its Christmas tree in the lobby to signify the gift, he said.

AARP has issued a gift match up to $10,000 for donations to the store.

All donations are tax-deductible.

To volunteer or learn more about the resource center, call Matthews at (405) 788-4957 or email him at dmatthews@ourcommunitymarket.org.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.