Salvation Army Ran Out of Food as Camp Out Hunger Wrapped Up
Wow. What an incredible week.
Bright and early Tuesday morning Buzz and I moved into a camper in the Sam's Club parking lot at the Marketplace at Augusta along with our sister morning show, The Moose Morning Show from 92 Moose. In addition to the campers was a 26' U-Haul truck generously donated by U-Haul here on Western Ave in Augusta. We set out with a goal of filling that truck with non-perishable food items before Saturday at noon to benefit the Capital Region Salvation Army here in Augusta. In addition to collecting non-perishable food we were also collecting monetary donations to be distributed throughout food pantries in Central Maine thanks to the help of United Way of Kennebec Valley.
This was our first year doing this event so there weren't many expectations or a clear goal. We just wanted to do what we could. We never expected what would happen in the days to come.
I remember one woman stopping by the first morning. Things had been slow during the morning show and this woman pulled up with her car and hand a bunch of groceries from Walmart. She said right off the bat she doesn't listen to our stations but came across us as she was traveling from Bangor to Portland that morning and wanted to help. Wow, talk about faith in humanity, right?
The next day management from Sam's Club came out with a sizeable donation. Seeing food start to add up in the truck was great, but 26' of truck is a lot of space. I was sure we'd get there by Saturday afternoon.
Momentum really picked up on Day 2 with the weather cooperating and WABI broadcasting live.
By the morning of Day 3, we realized, much to our surprise, we're gonna need another truck!
Now with two trucks at our compound, we knew Central Maine was showing up and showing up big for this event. No longer could we cry ignorance. We all became educated that Maine is the 8th hungriest state in the country making us the hungriest in New England. We learned that 1 in 5 Maine kids don't know where their next meal is coming from.
Al from the Augusta Food Bank and Major Patti from the Salvation Army educated us about the types of people they see each day. They're people just like us. People that work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet. Elderly couples who are faced with the decision to either eat or pay for heat or medication. Adults who move to the area and spent all they had on first/last/security on a new apartment and still have to wait 2 weeks for the first paycheck of their new job. We had countless individuals stop and say that they too were once food insecure and wanted to pay it forward.
Students in the Jobs for Maine Graduates program at Cony High School showed up with the Augusta Police Department with a huge truck packed with food donations. Girl Scout troop 1651 of China came with boxes of donations. Dunkin' on Western Ave had bags upon bags of food donations thanks to many customers rounding up their orders.
Major Patti of the Salvation Army came for an update Friday evening. On her way she received a call that they had run out of food and had to turn people away.
Now, I don't know what you believe in, if anything, but this to me showed that Camp Out Hunger was part of a bigger plan. Just as they ran out of food, we were sitting on two U-Hauls full to bring to them the next day. After hearing this news we extended our Saturday cut-off by a few hours for a final push.
When all was said and done we packed the Salvation Army with food to be sorted and ready for distribution later this week. Monetary donations which will be distributed throughout Central Maine with the help of United Way of Kennebec Valley was over $10,000. (Official totals haven't been calculated at time of posting.) It's estimated that the food donations amount to approximately 8,000 pounds which conservatively translates to about $20,000-$25,000.
Sam's Club has already invited us back for next year and you better believe we'll be doing it.
People came up to us all week long thanking us for what we did. Here's the thing, we have a platform. We have a giant stick that sends out our voices. We gave the call to action. We gave a time and place. It was YOU, our listeners, our community, who stepped in and stepped up for this worthy cause. $10,000 in cash donations will allow our local food pantries to get approximately $80,000 in food. That's incredible.
The Marketplace at Augusta had their own competition amongst their stores to see who could collect the most donations, TJ Maxx came through with the win!
Thank you to everyone who came out. Thank you to Sam's Club and the Marketplace at Augusta for being such wonderful hosts. Thank you to Scott's Recreation for giving us a place to sleep each night. Thank you to B&B Septic for the porta-potties. Thank you to Somerset Stone and Stove for the outdoor pellet fireplace that helped keep us warm and allowed us to make yummy s'mores. And thank you Tractor Supply for the pellets to keep the thing going all week long!
We cant wait to do this all over agian in 2020.