Franklin Countys First News

Gerry Wiles Holiday Food Basket program helps out families in need

Chamber members and staff with representatives of local food pantries.

FARMINGTON - The managers of local food pantries gathered at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce on Friday to receive some much-needed funding just ahead of the holiday season. Just outside was a collection of boxed goods and a shopping cart of frozen turkeys, all waiting for dozens of families to come pick them up.

The Gerry Wiles Holiday Food Basket program is an annual event, providing a full holiday meal with all the trimmings and dessert. The Chamber's members raise funds for the program through either donations or special events - such as the Franklin Memorial Hospital's Meal for a Meal day that raised more than $2,000. The food is purchased at four grocery stores, all of them members: Food City, Hannaford, Tranten's Market and Walmart.

Turkeys and associated foodstuffs, ready for pick up.

Applications are submitted to the Chamber from local families, who then travel to the Chamber's office in Walmart to pick up the goods. One hundred and twenty baskets were distributed this year, according to the Chamber.

Additionally, funds not used to purchase baskets are distributed between nine local food pantries in Franklin County. At two of those organizations, the Care and Share Food Pantry in Farmington and the Wilton Area Food Pantry, the funds will be doubled through matching grants. Food pantries can purchase food through the Good Shepard Food Bank, where every dollar spent there is multiplied to provide for families in need.

According to the chairman of the food basket committee, Shannon Smith, the funds donated to the nine pantries will be enough to purchase 20,000 meals for people. The pantry managers all arrived at the same time Friday to pick up their checks and chat with Chamber members and staff.

"It's nice that the food pantries come and get to be part of our community," Smith said.

Contributing businesses, individuals and organizations include: Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice, Food City, Kate Burdick, Ann Crafts, Calzolaio Pasta Company, Charles & Juanita Crafts, Chrissy & Dave St. Laurent, County Seat Realty, End of the Rainbow, Farmington Emblem Club, Franklin County Children's Task Force, Franklin Printing, Franklin Savings Bank, Franklin-Somerset Federal Credit Union, Glenn Kapiloff, Main-Land Development Consultants, Otis Federal Credit Union, Patricia Ridley, Rob Elliott Excavation, Senior Planning Center, Skowhegan Savings Bank, Steve & Cheryl Bunker, United Insurance Shiretown Agency, Western Mountain Financial Services and Mike Blanchet & Mary Ellen Gregory, Pam Dixon, Bev Knapp, Burns, Inc., Fish-n-Play, Acme Land Surveying, Wilton Blueberry Festival, Robin’s Flower Pot, Reny’s, Wiles Remembrance Centers/Adams~McFarlane, Arkay Pizza, E.L. Vining, Walmart, Scott Lavertu, Beckie Bowering, Lynda Jean Despard, Origin USA, Doug Sanders, Merrill’s Garage and Supply, Russell Black, Rustic Roots Farm, Adam Vigue, Scott & Mary Beth Morrison, Melissa Doucette, Juanita Crafts, Scott & Cheryl Foster, The Dugout Bar & Grill, Franklin Soil & Water Conservation, Sandy River Center/Genesis Healthcare HC, Expenet Technologies, Tinny’s Automotive Outlet, Darlene Chapman, Farmington Benevolent Fireman’s Association, Franklin Community Health Network and Al Kaplan. Franklin Memorial Hospital raised $2,109 for the program with the fifth annual Meal for a Meal program at its cafeteria last month.

"We're glad to do it," Chamber Board President Pam Dixon, a vice president and treasurer at Franklin Savings Bank said. "It's thanks to how generous our members are, that we can make this can be possible."

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  1. What an AWESOME day at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce office. Being able to help so many gives one a wonderful feeling.. We live in a very caring community. It sure showed it today. Thank you