Editorial: Radio celebrities show us what generosity is all about

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Our radio personalities are more than just talk — so much more that they deserve a shout-out.

Ahead of Thanksgiving, local radio host and event disc jockey “Bobby C” Campbell, and WRSI radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, spearheaded delivery of vast amounts of food to the needy of western Massachusetts.

It seems the two Franklin County residents do their best work not only in the radio station studio but also out in the community bringing food to their hungry neighbors.

Bobby C orchestrated 80 volunteers this past month to produce at-home Thanksgiving dinners and holiday community meals that directly reached 745 people — more than three times as many as the DJ and his friends managed last year, their inaugural charity meal effort.

“It took a village to put this together, and we have the village. We knocked it out of the park,” said Campbell, who owns Bobby C’s D.J. Service and can be heard on regional radio stations including WHAI 98.3.

Last year, and for the first time, Campbell said he and his crew collected enough money and food for about 200 Thanksgiving dinners. This year, the organizers managed to tap a deeper well of generosity.

“All I am is a liaison to get things together. I have the time to put effort into doing it. But it’s run by the community. It’s all community supporters in this area that made this happen,” Campbell told the Recorder, noting local farmers and businesses also gave discounts on food items.

And it just keeps getting better. Now that Campbell’s volunteers have finished with Thanksgiving, they plan to take any surplus cash to buy hams for Christmas.

Also last week, Belmonte and a small gang of area politicians and supporters pushed a grocery cart from Springfield to Greenfield over two days, raising pledges of money and food for the hungry in western Massachusetts, broadcasting the whole thing live on WRSI’s The River.

Since 2010, when the event started, Monte’s March has raised nearly $600,000 for The Food Bank of Western Mass., providing approximately 1,800,000 meals, according to organizers. This year the march broke previous records, raising $236,258. Belmonte said the money raised will provide one day of meals for the quarter-million residents of western Massachusetts who are food insecure. That’s a stunning statistic.

This year, as before, Belmonte was joined by U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, who for years has been a staunch defender of the hungry in the halls of Congress.

“This is real. It’s about helping people. This is not a political speech, or a press conference,” said McGovern during the march. “This is like-minded people coming together and making sure people in our community don’t go hungry.”

It never ceases to amaze us how such a rural and relatively poor part of the state can have such a big heart. While some will carp about the poor waiting for handouts, many more area residents are eager to help out. We’re lucky to be surrounded by such generous communities.

As Campbell said, “We have an awesome community here. If you ask, people will give.”

That we live in such a charitable place is something for which we should have been thankful last week and see as a gift when Christmas rolls around.