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Food-A-Thon falls short of goal, still break records

  • The North Quabbin Food-a-Thon, which had to change course to only accept monetary donations because of the pandemic, was deemed a success at raising $39,445 on Tuesday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • The North Quabbin Food-a-Thon, which had to change course to only accept monetary donations because of the pandemic, was deemed a success at raising $39,445 on Tuesday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/20/2020 3:15:20 PM
Modified: 5/20/2020 3:15:46 PM

ATHOL – A global pandemic did nothing to stifle the community’s pocketbook Tuesday as a record amount of money was donated to help five area food pantries.

Though the 17th North Quabbin Food-A-Thon fell short of the $60,000 goal set by organizers, online contributions and checks by mail generated $39,445 between 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jay Deane, chairman of the food-a-thon’s steering committee, said the donations broke virtually all records.

Safety protocols surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic prevented food collections from taking place as usual. Instead, the fundraiser was held online.

“It’s a pretty big uptick from last year,” Deane said shortly after 6 p.m. “I know that, no matter what, this event always seems to raise enough money … where we go, ‘Oh, my God.’”

Deane said the money is split evenly between Orange Food Pantry and the Franklin County Community Meals Program in Orange, 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.

Andrea Liebson, executive director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program, said the pie-in-the-sky goal of $60,000 was set in hopes of reaching the $500,000 figure for donations generated in the food-a-thon’s 17 years. Liebson said the event did not reach that mark but was still a wild success.

“It went fabulously,” she said. “That’s the best we’ve done.”

Liebson said the only North Quabbin Food-A-Thon that raised more money was the one in which it was bequeathed $25,000 in someone’s will. She said area residents understand their neighbors’ needs in this unprecedented time and feel the desire to help. She also mentioned Hannaford supermarket, which usually donates pallets of food, contributed $7,500 because food could not be collected.

Deane said he always marvels at the generosity of the area, which is not particularly affluent.

“People always seem to give, even if they don’t have it to give,” Deane said. He suggested people may have used money from their federal stimulus checks to donate.

Liebson said the food-a-thon was broadcast live on Athol-Orange Community Television (AOTV) for its usual 12 hours, and remote interviews with local politicians were held via Zoom, a video conferencing platform, or at a distance from inside the AOTV studio. Local musicians also performed.

The Tully City Council Club was the fiscal sponsor of the food-a-thon. Check donations can be made out to Tully CCC, with “Food-A-Thon” written in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Tully CCC, PO Box 484, Orange MA 01364. Online donations can be made by going to NQFoodathon.com or paypal.me/nqfoodathon.

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


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