North Quabbin Food-A-Thon raises $42.6K for food pantries, meal programs

  • Community members and volunteers collect and sort food donations for distribution to local food pantries during the 2019 North Quabbin Food-A-Thon. The 18th annual fundraiser was held Tuesday, but in a virtual format for the second year, and raised $42,600. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Community members and volunteers collect and sort food donations for distribution to local food pantries during the 2019 North Quabbin Food-A-Thon. The 18th annual fundraiser was held Tuesday, but in a virtual format for the second year, and raised $42,600. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Community members and volunteers collect and sort food donations for distribution to local food pantries during the 2019 North Quabbin Food-A-Thon. The 18th annual fundraiser was held Tuesday, but in a virtual format for the second year, and raised $42,600. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 5/20/2021 4:13:57 PM

ORANGE — Fundraising efforts through the North Quabbin Food-A-Thon held steady from 2020 to 2021, with the 18th annual event on Tuesday raising $42,600 to support food pantries and community meal programs — just $100 more than last year’s $42,500.

Tuesday’s 12-hour livestreamed event raised money for food pantries and meal programs in the North Quabbin region, and featured interviews with elected officials and community leaders, as well as updates on local food security efforts and musical performances. The event wrapped up with a closing Zoom call with volunteers and guests at 5:50 p.m.

According to North Quabbin Food-A-Thon Steering Committee Chair Jay Deane, donations will continue to be collected until the end of the month through a donation kiosk at the Hannaford Supermarket in Athol. Organizers are also still accepting donations through Paypal and Venmo until the end of May. A QR code to scan to pay using Venmo is available online at nqfoodathon.com.

“We had an incredible day,” Franklin County Community Meals Program Executive Director Rachel Berggren said of Tuesday’s 12-hour fundraising drive. “Tons of incredible interviews, performances and overall a big community day of coming together to address food insecurity in the North Quabbin region.”

The fundraiser supports the Orange Food Pantry and the Orange community meal (both parts of the Franklin County Community Meals Program), 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.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s event, Berggren said the North Quabbin Food-A-Thon is a major source of support to keep these pantries and meal sites open, especially during these times of financial uncertainty. With new households coming to the pantries and meal programs every month, she said the community’s support is needed more than ever.

Deane, who has been helping organize the Food-A-Thon since its inception 18 years ago, recalled how he and his brothers used to operate the WJDF radio station in Orange and were looking for a public service project “that would really make an impact.” The suggestion for the first-ever Food-A-Thon came from the Orange town administrator at the time.

“We used to just play music. We didn’t think anyone would listen to us yak about it for 12 hours,” Deane said. “Well, it worked.”

Deane said he has been impressed with the way the local community comes together each year, even during challenging economic times, to contribute to the Food-A-Thon and other local causes.

“You’d think you may have a hard time getting people to contribute, but people are very willing to give no matter their state in life,” Deane said.

In addition to individual donors, the Food-A-Thon is supported by larger donors and contributing businesses each year. Among the biggest contributors are Hannaford Supermarket in Athol and Pete’s Tire Barn in Orange.

Past years have also seen in-person volunteers stationed in Athol and Orange town centers during the day of the Food-A-Thon, asking pedestrians to contribute to the fundraiser. This was not part of the fundraising effort both this year and last due to COVID-19 health safety concerns. The Fisher Hill Elementary School, in a normal year, would also collect packaged foods and deliver them.

Deane said he is thankful to Athol-Orange Community Television (AOTV), the WVAO radio station, fellow members of the Food-A-Thon Steering Committee, volunteers and donors who have made the fundraiser continually successful.

“This just really takes a lot of work getting ready, and by the time the day is through you can get emotional about it because you see this total,” Deane said. “In times when we’re collecting food as well, you just see the volume of food being brought by people. … It gets emotional.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4569.




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