BRATTLEBORO — A local food drive is celebrating success after another strong year.
"I'm happy to say we hit both of our goals," said Project Feed the Thousands Co-Chairwoman Kelli Corbeil, president of Four Seasons Media and general manager of WTSA Radio. "$100,000 in cash and 200,000 in meals."
Over $117,000 in cash was collected for Project Feed the Thousands. During the drive, Brattleboro Subaru contributed $20,500 and the Vernon-based nuclear plant Vermont Yankee owner Entergy provided over $23,000 to the cause. More than 207,000 meals were also made available through the fundraising efforts.
The campaign began on Nov. 13, marking the 21st annual food drive. The Project Feed the Thousands Team collected non-perishable food, personal care items and cash donations until the end of December, according to feedthethousands.org. The effort went towards helping the thousands of people facing hunger each day throughout southeastern Vermont and southwestern New Hampshire.
Subaru's national Share the Love campaign, which started in November and ended Jan. 2, gave $250 to one of four national charities for every new Subaru purchased. Local Subaru dealers could choose a local charity to add to the list. Brattleboro Subaru selected Project Feed the Thousands.
Entergy Corporation said it awarded a $20,000 grant to Groundworks Collaborative Food Shelf towards the 2015 fundraising goal of Project Feed the Thousands. The company is currently involved in a decommissioning process as the plant closed in 2014.
"Vermont Yankee employees have a special relationship with Groundworks Collaborative Food Shelf, formerly the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center," said Chris Wamser, site vice president, in a press release. "Over the past decade, Entergy, through both grant funding and volunteer labor, has helped the Drop-In Center increase its ability to address community needs."
Since Entergy purchased Vermont Yankee in 2002, it has given the Drop-In Center over $300,000 in corporate grants.
"Entergy Charitable Foundation has also pledged an additional $25,000 over the next two years," the company said. "Also, Vermont Yankee employees recently intensified their fundraising efforts, raising another $3,100 for Project Feed. This was achieved in partnership with Entergy, which sold off surplus office equipment to the employees and donated the money to support Project Feed."
Groundworks Collaborative is the merged entity of the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center and Morningside Shelter, operating that way since June.
"Our months average anywhere from 900 up to 1,200 coming to our food shelf," said Lucy Fortier, of Groundworks Collaborative, in a segment on Project Feed the Thousands that aired on Brattleboro Community Television in November. "It's really been great living in a community that's so supportive of their neighbors."
In the same interview, Corbeil said it is important for people to donate not only during the food drive but throughout the year. A greater need exists beyond that of the goal.
"There's a need out there bigger than I ever thought," said John Sciacca, general manager of Brattleboro Subaru, in the segment.
Project Feed the Thousands began in 1994 when Larry Smith and George Haynes organized a food drive to eliminate hunger in Brattleboro and surrounding towns. Smith was part of WTSA and Haynes was a former president of Brattleboro Savings & Loan.
Their goal was to feed an estimated 1,000 people in the area or in other words, fill a single tractor trailer with food. As the efforts grew, the drive became not only a way to raise money and collect food but also raise awareness on the issue of hunger.