2022 North Quabbin Food-A-Thon raises $35K

  • From left, Rachel Berggren, executive director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program, and Jay Deane, Dean Collins and Jay’s brother, Donn Deane, of the North Quabbin Food-A-Thon broadcast from Athol-Orange Community Television in Athol on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Marissa Paton collects donations for the North Quabbin Food-A-Thon in the center of Orange on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Carol Courville, executive director of Athol-Orange Community Television, sits in the control room while coordinating with U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern shortly before the Democratic congressman’s remote interview with Jay Deane and Dean Collins during the 19th North Quabbin Food-A-Thon on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Doug Blair, right, asks Dan Parsons, center, about volunteering as part of the 19th North Quabbin Food-A-Thon on Tuesday. Parsons is sergeant major of the Salvation Army Athol Corps. At left is volunteer Bob Sisson, with Our Lady Immaculate Church in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 5/18/2022 4:00:24 PM
Modified: 5/18/2022 5:46:06 PM

The North Quabbin Food-A-Thon generated nearly $35,000 for six area food pantries on Tuesday during its 12-hour program of live and pre-recorded local entertainment and interviews at Athol-Orange Community Television (AOTV), while volunteers took to streets and businesses to collect cash donations.

Jay Deane, who sits on the nonprofit’s steering committee, said the $34,973 raised by 6 p.m. on Tuesday will provide 139,892 meals for those in need. The money will be divided equally between the Athol Salvation Army, the Franklin County Community Meals Program, the Good Neighbors Food Pantry serving Wendell and New Salem, the St. Vincent de Paul Group Food Pantry by St. Mary’s Church in Orange, the Athol High School Food Pantry and the Our Lady Immaculate Food Pantry in Athol.

“I’m overwhelmed that … in 12 hours’ time people can contribute that kind of money,” he said, adding that the generosity is even more impressive when considering the area’s limited financial resources. “People seem to come out of the woodwork.”

The 19th annual North Quabbin Food-A-Thon had tables set up at least at Market Basket in Athol and the Athol Veterans Park so volunteers could solicit donations from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. There were also individuals holding buckets at the Orange and Athol downtown intersections to accept donations from drivers.

Sarah Gabrenas, who started working at GAAMHA as a developmental assistant in January, supervised one of the Market Basket tables with three clients for a portion of Tuesday morning and said customers were immediately generous.

“We’ve gotten quite a few donations,” she said shortly before 10:20 a.m.

Sgt. Maj. Dan Parsons, of the Salvation Army Athol Corps, oversaw a table in Athol Veterans Park, where donations were accepted under a canopy and by volunteers by the street.

“We came here this morning at 5 o’clock,” Parsons said at 10:55 a.m. “We thought the early crowd was a little bit thinner than what we were used to, about two years ago. The traffic coming through, usually, is pretty heavy, coming into work for, like, 6 o’clock. It was a little bit lighter this year. ... But it picked up and things are looking pretty good right now.”

No donations were collected in public the previous two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At AOTV, longtime local broadcasters Jay Deane, Dean Collins, Donn Deane and Bonnie Benjamin served as hosts, interviewing people in the studio throughout the day. Guests included Athol Town Manager Shaun Suhoski, who came in person, and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, who appeared via Zoom from his office in Washington D.C.

The North Quabbin Food-A-Thon raised $42,010 in 2020 and $45,645 in 2021. Jay Deane said this year’s total of $34,973 did not surpass the Food-A-Thon’s record, but this can be attributed to various factors. One of those is the fact that last year, Terry Bouchard, owner of Corner Cafe in Orange, selected the North Quabbin Food-A-Thon as her charity of choice to receive a $5,000 donation when her eatery was named the “People’s Choice” grand-prize winner of General Mills Foodservice’s sixth annual Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest. The cafe’s maple brownie cake with candied bacon secured the accolade and earned a $5,000 prize in addition to the donation.

Information on how to donate to the Food-A-Thon at any time of year is available at nqfoodathon.com.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or
413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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