BRATTLEBORO -- You’ll have to forgive the organizers of this year’s Load the Latchis food drive if they are keeping a close watch on the weather report this year.
Last year, WKVT Operations Manager Peter "Fish" Case planned the first annual food drive for the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center for Wednesday, Aug. 31.
The plan was to have people come down to the Latchis and fill every seat with food donations for the Drop In Center.
When Tropical Storm Irene hit and flooded the Latchis, the event was delayed a few weeks and it was held in Brattleboro Savings and Loan parking lot.
The food drive last year was held just as area residents were digging out from Irene, and the storm might have helped out in the end by encouraging more donations. But with no natural disasters in the forecast, Case said he hopes this year’s food drive is just as successful, if not quite as dramatic.
"This is our second annual food drive but it’s really the first time we have tried to do it," Case said Wednesday. "We’re not exactly sure what is the best way to load 750 bags of groceries into the Latchis."
Load the Latchis is planned for this Friday, Aug. 31, and volunteers will be in front of the theater all day, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., to accept donations
Last year about 1,000 bags of food and necessities were donated, along with an additional $4,000 that was given for flood relief.
Even though the original event was canceled supporters still dropped off about 300 bags of groceries, which were taken directly to the Drop In Center on South Main Street.
The additional 700 bags or so were dropped off during the event at Brattleboro Savings and Loan two weeks later.
In a way Tropical Storm Irene might have helped the cause because people were seeing the devastation all around them and there was a strong call to help out your neighbor during the disaster.
Case says he expects the Brattleboro area to come through again, even through the most threatening forecast is for a hot and humid day Friday.
"Obviously we had extenuating circumstances last year. The perception was that there was a need and people wanted to help," Case said. "But one thing this community does well is rally, and the need is still there."
Brattleboro Area Drop In Center Executive Director Lucie Fortier said the food drive comes just as the organization is struggling to bridge the gap between the busy fall season and the group’s major fundraising event, Project Feed the Thousands.
"Our funds get pretty low this time of year," Fortier said. "We have no extra money to buy food and so this comes at a good time for us."
Fortier said Load the Latchis also gives the group a chance to step out and maybe introduce the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center to some people who might not be familiar with the group.
Fortier took over as executive director after Melinda Bussino died earlier this year.
Fortier said the drop in center is undergoing a revitalization. The floors are being sanded and she hopes to have the building on South Main Street painted before winter.
Along with providing food the drop in center gives people a place to shower and do laundry and it helps them find housing and access services.
Load the Latchis, Fortier said, gives the drop in center one more way to extend its welcome to the community.
"We are much more than just a food shelf," she said. "A lot more goes on in that building."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311 ext. 279. Follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer