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Watertown Family Y members, children collect food for needy families

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WATERTOWN — Good deeds are rewarded.

That is what students in the Watertown Family Y’s regular and summer School-Age Child Care programs learned Friday. Bridgette R. Gates, senior director of operations for the Y’s youth and children’s programs, said children at the city, Carthage, General Brown, Indian River, Sackets Harbor, South Jefferson and Thousand Islands sites helped Y members from the three locations in Jefferson County collect nearly 3,000 nonperishable food and personal hygiene items.

“We have social responsibility,” she said of the overall Y organization. “Part of what we do at the Y is not just doing (things) within our walls. It’s something that feels good.”

In conjunction with the United Way of Northern New York, the regular SACC sites began collecting boxed pasta, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and other nonperishable items in April. Mrs. Gates said some personal hygiene items also were donated, and Y members throughout the Carthage, Downtown and Fairgrounds Y locations joined the community service project.

SACC sites, she said, typically engage collectively in community service work throughout the school year.

Items collected throughout the past few months were picked up and sorted Thursday.

To thank the SACC children for their work and dedication, the United Way and Y agencies offered a luau-themed celebration for the children at the summer SACC site, within Knickerbocker Elementary School. A distribution of food and personal hygiene items collected also took place there Friday so food pantry volunteers and staff with the Watertown Urban Mission, Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County and Rohde Center in Adams could help restock their shelves this summer.

Mrs. Gates said while the Summer Feeding Program offers meals and snacks throughout Jefferson County from late June through late August, not all hungry children or needy families have access to those open sites.

Assisting neighborhood food pantries also helps.

She said items collected should help the three participating food pantries until the United Way’s annual food drive in September.

Thousands of items are collected from that drive and distributed throughout Jefferson County.

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