June 14, 2024

Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce donates $20K to local food pantries

By Masha Yurkevich

Food pantries play a vital role in helping communities thrive, serving everyone from low-income families, single parents, senior citizens, unemployed individuals, disabled veterans, working poor, and anyone else that comes to the pantry.

Checks were presented to several local food pantry directors
at the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce's
Business Break at the Roosevelt Trail Garden Center on
May 22. From left are Robins Mullins SLRCC
President/CEO, Gary Bibeau Raymond Food Pantry, Collette
Gagnon, Windham Food Pantry, Jonathan Priest SLRCC
Board Chair, Lisa Mokaba Standish Food Pantry, Debra
Howard Sebago Warming Hut, John Worrey Crosswalk
Community Outreach, and Donna Rand Gray Community
On May 22, the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce presented a check of $20,000 to several of the food pantry directors at the chamber's May Business Break at the Roosevelt Trail Garden Center.

The chamber's mission is “To foster economic growth and prosperity in our region,” says Robin Mullins, the President-CEO of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce (SLRCC). “Our region consists of Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham.”

To that end, in 2016, the SLRCC created the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Charitable Trust, which oversees the Feed the Need initiative.

“The initiative was started because the chamber realized that food insecurity in the region was an issue and we wanted to help in any way we could,” says Mullins.

The chamber hosts fundraising events throughout the year and through the trust donates annually to the 12 food pantries in the eight towns the chamber supports. Fundraisers include the Sebago Lake Polar Dip held in February as part of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club's Annual Fishing Derby, the Golf Ball Drop which is part of Windham Summerfest, 50/50 drawings from some of the chamber's monthly Business Breaks, and donations made during the chamber's annual Bid of Christmas event each December.

“Private donations from individuals and other local businesses also help to fund the initiative,” says Mullins. “This year we donated $20,000 to those 12 food pantries in our region. The amount of each check is based on the number of individuals the pantry assists each month.”

To date, the Feed the Need initiative has donated more than $178,500 to the region's local food pantries. The chamber raises cash for the pantries, rather than doing food drives, as it allows the pantries to use the funds for items they need at their individual pantries. Sometimes the need is not food at all, but toiletries, personal items or diapers.

These are ways the community can help and contribute, too., Mullins said.

The community can help out by checking out the Feed the Need section of our website at sebagolakeschamber.com/,” says Mullins. “There they can donate directly to Feed the Need or they can participate in any of our fundraisers. In fact, we have a fundraiser going on right now. I am throwing out a challenge to the residents of the eight towns we support. Please purchase a golf ball (or two or 10) for our annual Golf Ball Drop that is part of Windham Summerfest on June 22. Golf balls are $10 each (you do not get a physical golf ball, but a number). At 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 22 at the Windham Summerfest, all of the balls we have sold will be dropped from the top of a Windham fire truck ladder. The person whose ball falls closest to the pin will win 20 percent of what we raise. So, if we sell all 1,000 golf balls, the winner would receive $2,000. There are lots of other ancillary prizes as well.”

What makes this even more exciting is that their sponsor for the event, Modern Woodmen, has agreed to match the first $2,500 that Feed the Need raises from this event and all of this will go directly to the Feed the Need initiative.

“We ask that you please buy some golf balls and by this you will not only contribute to your community, but it will also give you a chance to win a wonderful prize,” says Mullins. “You can purchase them online at our website or come and see us at Summerfest on June 22. We also have a fun putting contest where you can win a $100 Hannaford Gift card.”

For more information about the Feed the Need initiative, please visit sebagolakeschamber.com/<

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