Every year the Watertown Urban Mission keeps hundreds of people every month from going hungry. However, in an area that has new people every day due to Fort Drum, there are plenty of people who still do not know about the largest food pantry in the north country.
To help get the word out, Price Chopper on Arsenal Street hosted the third annual Family Fun Day over the weekend, a cookout and food collection event to benefit the mission.
Ive had to go to the mission. Its been on and off, said event organizer and store associate Leslie A. Keefer. Its a great organization, and they do so much more than the food pantry. When Social Services says, no, the mission does whatever they can to help.
Because the nonprofit has been so generous to her, Ms. Keefer said, she wanted to give back. The event started out as a food drive, but several of the stores vendors Frito-Lay, Gianelli sausage, Pepsi and Hoffman hot dogs jumped on the idea when Ms. Keefer brought it up to her manager.
Our vendors started bringing in donations, so we brought out the grill, Ms. Keefer said.
The weekends goal was to make $1,000 through the cookout. The organization had made half of that by noon on Sunday.
Raising money, however, was not the only goal.
What it comes down to is an opportunity to raise awareness of the mission and the program and bring the community together to raise money and donate food to help their neighbors, said Urban Mission Development Director Andrew G. Mangione.
He was giving away $2 coupons to the Impossible Dream Thrift Store and encouraging customers outside Price Chopper on Sunday to buy a hamburger.
The food donations have been greater this year, he said. Were entering the time of the year when donations are more important. Kids are getting out of school and arent getting free lunches anymore. We see an increase in demand.
Additionally, hundreds of essential items including toothbrushes, diapers and others were collected during the food drive.
Also donated were the volunteer efforts of Price Chopper employees. Several store associates manned the grill and collected donations.
Were grateful for Price Chopper for stepping up every year to put the community first, said Mr. Mangione.
The Urban Mission and Ms. Keefer are planning several other fundraisers. On July 7, drivers at Evans Mills Speedway will collect cash and food donations. The driver with the most donations will win a $25 Price Chopper gift card. On Aug. 11, the mission will collect donations at a Legends race.
We live in a very generous community, said Mr. Mangione.