Hoops 4 Hunger boosts resources at Athol High Food Pantry

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 01-24-2024 4:01 PM

ATHOL – With packed stands and donations still being counted, organizers of the Hoops 4 Hunger charity considered Monday’s game a great success.

The junior varsity and varsity games held between Athol High and Franklin County Technical schools brought in a large amount of monetary and pantry donations, according to Athol Royalston Regional School Committee member Lonnie Bonenfant She added that the winner of the event’s 50/50 raffle donated their $175 prize back to the food pantry.

Bonenfant also thanked Topsy’s Restaurant, Hannaford, Dunkin Donuts in the Hannaford Plaza, Los Agaves Restaurant, Starbucks, Asia Gourmet, 110 Grill, MacMannis Florist, Domino’s, Subway, and AO Auto School for the contributions to Monday’s event, which benefited the Athol High School Food Pantry.

Anyone who missed the chance to attend Monday’s games will have another opportunity to enjoy some local sports action while helping out their neighbors in need. The JV and varsity girls basketball teams from Mahar Regional High School and Athol High will face off on Saturday, Feb. 3, at Mahar. The JV game starts at 12:30 p.m. and will be followed by the varsity contest at 2 p.m. Ticket sales from the event will go to the Orange Food Pantry.

Tiffany Comeau, who is coordinating the fundraiser, said, “Anyone who comes and brings a hygiene product will get into the game. Right now, the Orange Food Pantry is really struggling with hygiene products. Food doesn’t seem to be a huge concern of theirs right now, but they do have a lot of people asking for the hygiene products.”

Comeau, whose daughter Hayden is a captain on the Mahar varsity team, added that the pantry was also looking for “gently-used, clean winter jackets, (new) socks, items like that. I run a small daycare out of my home and I’m hoping some of my parents will bring their kids to the game; that would be really fun, because we are going to do a chuck-a-duck, which is just a tiny little duck that you throw into the center of the court to win a prize.”

Shirley Mitchell, director of the AHS Family and Community Center and Food Pantry, said on Wednesday morning that she was still waiting to find out exactly how much money was raised on Monday. As for food donations, Mitchell said two six-foot long tables were “just full of food. We’re just now starting to sort through the items.”

Mitchell said that next Wednesday a luncheon will be held in the AHS cafeteria to thank those who volunteer for the center and food pantry. She said special recognition will be given to the Athol High girls varsity basketball team and Ragnarok Tattoo Company for “doing fundraisers outside the box.” The basketball team will be cited for Monday’s Hoops 4 Hunger event, while Ragnarok will be recognized for a tattoo raffle that raised more than $1,000 for the food pantry.

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Mitchell said 2023 was a busy year for the food pantry.

“We helped 6,605 people from January to December of last year,” said Mitchell. “That represents 2,748 families we served. We’re sort of the new food pantry in the area. We started in 2020. So to have that number of people coming through shows the need in our area. It was a busy year, so we want to thank all our volunteers.”

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.