by Frank Lee
The Catholic Charities’ annual “Pack the Porches” food drive took place this month for the first time in Sartell at HealthPartners’ Central Minnesota Clinic.
More than 14,000 pounds of food were collected and $10,000 was raised by donations dropped off at the clinic and Pioneer Place on Fifth Theatre in St. Cloud and St. Cloud Hyundai.
“HealthPartners has been a strong supporter of Catholic Charities for many, many years, and it was just another opportunity to add another location and make it a little more convenient for people in Sartell,” said Beth Cummings, Catholic Charities communications manager.
Staff at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud used social media, created posters, did mailings, sent e-mails and issued press releases to publicize the new Sartell location.
Catholic Charities Emergency Services Food Shelf serves the communities of Sartell, Sauk Rapids, St. Cloud, St. Augusta and Waite Park.
“We’ve got a very big supply of food already donated here,” Cummings said as she stood in the health-care-provider’s parking lot along with other volunteers on the morning of March 18.
HealthPartners’ Central Minnesota Clinic in Sartell matched donations up to $500, Cummings said.
“We are thrilled with the results,” said Steve Bresnahan, executive director of Catholic Charities. “We smashed last year’s record of 3,500 pounds of food.
“In addition, with the buying power offered to us by Second Harvest Food Bank and other partners, we will be able to purchase between $40,000 and $90,000 worth of groceries with the money collected today.”
Minnesota FoodShare has coordinated the March Campaign, the annual grassroots food and fund drive that provides more than half the food distributed by 300 food shelves throughout the state.
The more food and donations collected at local events like “Pack the Porches,” the more incentive funds Catholic Charities receive, resulting in more food for hungry families.
“It’s a wonderful time of year to give because all the donations are matched through Minnesota FoodShare, and what’s important about doing it this time of year is school will be getting out before you know it, so some kids won’t have access to food at school,” Cummings said.
In addition to the food and funds collected, Coborn’s will be delivering on its pledge to match donations with 10,000 pounds of food.
Robert Scheibmeir of Great Steps Orthotic & Prosthetic Solutions in Sartell dropped off a donation at the “Pack the Porches” site outside HealthPartners’ Central Minnesota Clinic.
“We’re definitely involved in our church, but it’s just a good cause … feeding the people who need it,” Scheibmeir said.
While “Pack the Porches” is over, March, which is Minnesota FoodShare month, continues through April 1.
Donations to Catholic Charities Emergency Services Food Shelf can be made online at www.ccstcloud.org or by dropping off food or funds at Catholic Charities Emergency Services, 157 Roosevelt Road, St. Cloud.
For more information, call the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud at 320-650-1550.