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Rotary Club sets food drive for Open Pantry for Nov. 20

Date: 11/15/2010

Nov. 15, 2010

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW -- As the holiday season approaches, it is a time of happiness for most, but for some, it serves as even more of a reminder of how tough times are.

That's why Peter Benton brought to the East Longmeadow Rotary Club an idea for a food drive. Rotarians will be at the Heritage Park parking lot between the pond and the Heritage Plaza on Nov. 20 collecting nonperishable food items to be donated to the Open Pantry. The drive will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"This is the first year we'll be doing this in East Longmeadow," Benton said. "I thought this was such a good project that I brought it before the Rotary and they jumped right on board."

"This is a great opportunity around the holidays for us to not only count our blessings, but to help those who are less fortunate get some food stuffs," he added.

While most towns, including East Longmeadow, have their own food pantries, Benton felt the Open Pantry was a worthwhile cause because of its ability to reach out to many communities throughout the Pioneer Valley.

"There's a lot of need out there," Benton said. "You'd be hard pressed to find a community where there isn't someone who is struggling. Some areas have been hit harder than others, but especially in this day and age, there are a lot of people everywhere in need."

While he expects great support from East Longmeadow residents, Benton said that in his experience with similar projects, the support stretches much further and that the centralized location, just minutes from Springfield, Wilbraham and Longmeadow is an advantage.

"These kinds of things tend to draw from the whole area," Benton said.

In order to use Heritage Park as its collection location, the Rotary first needed the permission of the Board of Selectman and Benton said the Selectmen were "very gracious and supportive" of the project.

In addition to the food drive at Heritage Park, the Rotary will have collection stations at East Longmeadow businesses, including Big Y, W.B. Hill and Custom Auto Body the week leading up to the drive.

For more information, contact Benton at 525-8625 or or Michael Boucher at 525-4201 or

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