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Food-A-Thon will take place with changes

  • The North Quabbin Food-A-Thon will go on as scheduled May 19, but because of the pandemic, it will accept monetary donations only. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/7/2020 3:36:04 PM
Modified: 5/7/2020 3:35:53 PM

ATHOL – The 17th annual Food-A-Thon will take place  Tuesday, May 19 but, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be some significant changes from years past. Because organizers want to protect the health and safety of the public, monetary donations only will be accepted. Donations may be made by sending a check by mail or contributing online.

The event will take place between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Organizers hope to raise $60,000, which would be used to help a number of local organizations, including: Orange Food Pantry and the 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.

If this year’s fundraising goal is reached, it will bring the total raised over the past 17 years to a half-million dollars.

Andrea Leibson, executive director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program, said she and other Food-A-Thon organizers wrestled with how — and if — to go ahead with the event this year.

“We talked about going about it the normal way,” she said, “which meant being out in the street, interacting with lots of people, and just postponing it. And then we couldn’t figure out when we could do it.

“We certainly know that the demand for pantry services has not gone away, and we anticipate that it will grow as time goes on and more people become more food insecure as a result of losing their job, or having their hours cut back, or for a variety of reasons. So, we asked ourselves, ‘How can we do this?’ The need hasn’t gone away. The interest is still there. We just do need to be sure everyone will be safe.”

Leibson said it was decided that an online presence was needed, especially since there will be no collection of nonperishable food items this year.

“We decided we’d better have a website,” she said. “We better figure out how to do his in a way that, number one, kind of is modern. Lots of people are doing fundraising online. We decided let’s modernize ourselves and let’s try to do it online.”

One aspect that hasn’t changed is community access. The Food-A-Thon will be broadcast live on AOTV, channel 1301, and radio station WVAO, 105.9-FM. Leibson said remote interviews with U.S. Rep. James McGovern, state Sen. Ann Gobi and state Rep. Susannah Whipps are being planned, noting that others may be added.

In addition to Leibson, organizers of the Food-A-Thon include: Carol Courville, executive director AOTV; Shane Brown, production manager AOTV; AOTV personality Bonnie Benjamin; Nancy Graton, Wendell Good Neighbors; Dan Parsons, Athol Salvation Army; Peter Geary, owner of Pete’s Tire Barn; Frank and Kathy Schiappa, St. Vincent DePaul Pantry; Joe Goody, manager, Athol Hannaford; Jeff Cole, Witty’s Funeral Home; and community members Jay Deane and John DeWitt.

The fiscal sponsor of the event is the Tully CCC. Check donations should be made out to Tully CCC, with “Food-A-Thon” written in the memo line. Checks should be mailed to Tully CCC, PO Box 484, Orange MA 01364. Online donations may be made by going to or

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