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Carthage food pantry collects more than $18k in Feinstein Challenge

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CARTHAGE — The staff of the Village Ecumenical Ministries Food Pantry is overwhelmed by the community’s outpouring of generosity, especially during the past two months.

The food pantry received $18,865.81 during the Feinstein Challenge, which offers matching gifts at a minimum of $250 and maximum of $35,000 for donations given to food pantries nationwide from March 1 to April 30.

The Feinstein Foundation, founded in 1991 by Alan Shawn Feinstein, works to alleviate hunger and stresses the importance of community service and the values of caring, compassion and brotherhood.

“We are all so blown away by the tremendous outpouring from the community — it’s so unbelievable,” Darlene A. Jensen, VEM Food Pantry director, said of the money and 6,328 items donated for the challenge. “I’m not often speechless, but I’m at a loss for words.”

She said she hopes the entire amount raised will be matched.

“Part of the equation is how much work goes into it,” she said. “The food pantry staff, the Chamber of Commerce, VEM, corporations and individuals put a lot of work into it, so I hope that ups our numbers. So many people have donated six items here, 20 items there.”

Many organizations took up the challenge. Black River Cub Scout Pack 33 hosted a food drive. Carthage Free Library offered fine forgiveness for overdue books if patrons donated food items. The West Carthage Fire Department hosted a spaghetti dinner. Bake sales were held by friends of the food pantry and by Salaam Halila, a foreign exchange student from Tunisia.

Adriana A. Shaffner, 6, asked for donations in lieu of birthday gifts and Jacob House, 10, urged his class at Carthage Elementary School to donate more than 130 items. The document sent to the Feinstein Foundation also lists a Brownie troop that donated cash and Girl Scout cookies and a Boy Scout troop that conducted a food drive. Carthage Federal Savings and Loan donated $5,000 on the last day.

Mrs. Jensen said although the Feinstein match amount will not be known for months, it was “absolutely worth it no matter what the match.”

The increase is very apparent when compared with donations made during the same time last year — 1,613 items and $1,348.

She said the pantry will take up the challenge again next year.

Meanwhile, the food pantry continues to collect items to feed the hungry as the need keeps growing.

The town of Wilna, Kinney Drugs, Hunt Realty and Long Falls Apartments have donation boxes.

Donations may also be dropped off at the food pantry at 425 S. Washington St. during the hours of operation, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Friday and 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

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