Volunteers gear up for Tuesday Food-A-Thon

Published: 5/15/2019 4:17:27 PM
Modified: 5/15/2019 4:17:15 PM

ATHOL — Sixteen years ago, a small group of Athol and Orange officials and citizens decided to try a “Boot Drive” to raise funds and collect food donations to help support local food pantries and feeding programs. The event was so successful it has been repeated every year since. The 16th annual North Quabbin Food-A-Thon will be held on Tuesday, May 21 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Food-A-Thon provides food and money to support five local food pantries and feeding programs. The recipients are the Orange Food Pantry and the Community Meals Program in Orange, both part of the Franklin County Community Meals Program, Our Lady Immaculate Pantry in Athol, the Salvation Army Pantry and Meal Program in Athol, St. Vincent DePaul Pantry of St. Mary’s Church in Orange, and the Good Neighbors Pantry in Wendell.

Volunteers conduct the Boot Drive on the Main Streets in Orange and Athol, and over the past 15 years have collected nearly $415,000. More than 11,000 non-perishable food items were collected in 2018. Both the money and food are divided equally among the five pantry and feeding programs.

Food is collected in various locations in Athol and Orange, including the Main Street intersections in both towns, and at Hannaford’s, Walmart and Market Basket. Food is also gathered at local businesses, in the public schools and by community groups such as Girl and Boy Scout troops. Elementary schools in Orange have red wagon parades to deliver the food they collect. All the food is brought to the downtown parking lot in Orange by 6 p.m. and then divided among the five programs.

The Food-A-Thon will be broadcast live from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on AOTV channel 1301 and radio station WVAO 105.9. Federal, state and local elected officials are interviewed on air as well as local business owners, the various pantry representatives, school children and local benefactors making contributions. Live video feed is provided in Orange and Athol during the school donation drop-offs.

The fiscal sponsor is the Orange Historical Society and checks may be sent there, made out to “The Orange Historical Society” with “Food-A-Thon” written on the memo line. Checks may be mailed to The Orange Historical Society, P.O. Box 28, Orange, MA 01364. Donors may also present checks of $100 or more on-air at AOTV studio, 163 South Main St., Athol between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Sponsors for the Food-A-Thon include Pete’s Tire Barns, Hannaford Supermarket, AOTV, WVAO, Walmart, Witty’s Funeral Home, Market Basket, Lyman Signs, The Highland Press, Lyman Excavating, and the Orange Historical Society. These businesses make a significant difference in making the Food-A-Thon happen. Local businesses donate food to feed the volunteers, including Diemand Farm, Friendly Town Pizza, The Pizza Factory, Hannaford Supermarket and Walmart.

The five pantry and feeding programs have seen a steady level of those in need this year. The Food-A-Thon is a major source of food and funds to keep these pantries and meal sites open. With new households coming to the pantries and feeding programs every month, the community’s support is needed more than ever, which is why organizers are reaching out to all local businesses, organizations, churches and schools for help. Whether you collect food, raise funds or help feed the volunteers, the Food-A-Thon shines a light on food insecurity in the Athol/Orange area and offers an opportunity to help those in need.

 

 


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