Month-long ‘Walk-to-Thank’ fundraiser will support Franklin County Community Meals Program

Staff Writer
Published: 7/9/2021 4:31:43 PM

The Franklin County Community Meals Program holds the Hope Against Hunger Auction each year to raise money to support its work alleviating hunger across Franklin County, but this month’s fundraiser will see a twist on tradition with a call for action from individual community members.

According to Franklin County Community Meals Program Executive Director Rachel Berggren, the group is encouraging individuals to raise money from participating businesses themselves instead of having organizers ask businesses to sponsor the auction. This new version of the event is called the “Walk-to-Thank” fundraiser.

Over the years, Berggren said more than 250 local businesses have helped to support the Franklin County Community Meals Program’s fundraising efforts and mission of working in partnership with the community to alleviate hunger. However, following a year where many business were impacted financially, the meals program is looking to recognize the local businesses for their past support while offering them reprieve from usual donations.

“This year, we will not be asking businesses to sponsor our annual auction,” Berggren said. “Instead we are asking you — individuals, coworkers, teams, community members, neighbors — to join us in this first of its kind Walk-to-Thank.”

Community members are invited to collect donation pledges based on the number of participating businesses they visit while walking during the month of July. The goal is to raise a total of $10,000.

For every store that participants visit as part of their walk around the county, Greenfield Savings Bank will donate $1 to their collection to further incentivize community participation. In addition, the bank has pledged to donate $500 in the name of the first person to visit all 108 of this year’s participating businesses.

To walk, the Franklin County Community Meals Program encourages everyone to plan routes in any of the cities and towns where business partners are located, stop by one of the sponsor businesses and thank them for helping to fight hunger in Franklin County. A map of supporting businesses can be found on the Walk-to-Thank event page. When stopping at each sponsor business, participants are encouraged to take a selfie and share it on the meals program’s Facebook page,, using the hashtag #WalkToThank2021.

To wrap up the fundraising, participants can turn in their pledges at the Greenfield High School track on July 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participants will be eligible for tickets to a raffle. The more businesses you take selfies at, the more times you can enter a raffle.

To get involved, register online at, by calling 413-772-1033 or by emailing Participants, who can walk individually or as part of a group, should set a personal fundraising goal.

While participants can download and print a pledge sheet at, they can also set up a page to track their miles and fundraising progress after their online registration. Physical copies are also available at the Franklin County Community Development Corporation at 324 Wells St. in Greenfield.

As a hunger relief organization, Berggren said the Franklin County Community Meals Program provides three meal sites, two food pantries and a mobile food bank, serving over 20,000 hot meals annually and distributing over 300,000 pounds of food across its pantries.

If organizers had not already understood the value of this community network, Berggren said the pandemic further solidified that “we cannot do anything alone and that we are stronger together.” She said new partnerships with the restaurant industry proved a “lifesaver” when the Franklin County Community Meals Program was unable to access the kitchens at its meal sites and needed guidance from professionals in the industry.

“Big grocery stores and mom-and-pop shops alike have donated food and goods,” Berggren said. “Now, as the economy is in recovery, we want to encourage the community to see and recognize the heroes within the business community.”

More   information on how to get involved in the “Walk-to-Thank” fundraiser is available at

Zack DeLuca can be reached at or


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