Martin's Markets seek donations for food bank

March 10, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Martin's Food Markets are asking shoppers to buy a little extra for the county's hungry.

The grocery chain with outlets in Eldersburg and Westminster launched a food drive last week to fill the shelves at Carroll County Food Sunday, a 13-year-old organization that distributes the food to those with the greatest need.

"As soon as they walk in our front door, they see the display of carts with balloons and signs," said Bill Markel, manager of the Freedom Village store on Liberty Road.

Customers are filling nearly two carts a day with nonperishable foods.

The grocery chain, which has 64 stores in four states, is sponsoring the drive through March 18.

"As a provider of quality foods, we have the resources to make a difference," said Rich Pasewark, spokesman for the stores.

On March 19, about 20 local store employees have volunteered to load the donations onto tractor-trailers and sort everything at the Food Sunday distribution center in Westminster.

"I have been in the food business most of my life," Mr. Markel said. "If we can help spearhead this effort, we can do a lot for the hungry."

Managers at the two county stores said the drive, which began March 1, has gotten off to a moderate start. They are expecting a strong finish.

"We are stepping up our efforts," said Mark Faccin, assistant manager at the Westminster store in 140 Village Shopping Center. "We keep four carts at the front of the store and two are usually full."

Customers also can make cash donations at the check-out counter. The stores have set a key on each register to tally the donations.

The Eldersburg grocery hopes to interest children in the drive with a visit from Cheese-a-saurus Rex, the Kraft macaroni dinosaur, and Mr. Peanut. The characters will be at the store from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow. Mr. Peanut also will make an appearance today.

Children who bring one canned good for the campaign can have a free photo taken with the dinosaur or peanut character.

"Basically, kids understand that many are not as fortunate as they are," Mr. Markel said. "This gives them a chance to help others."

In the first week of the campaign, the Eldersburg store has collected about 1,200 pounds of food. In the next eight days, the staff hopes to reach its goal of 8,750 pounds.

"We will need a real push to get there, but I think we can," Mr. Markel said.

Demand for donations tends to be fairly constant and the campaign is being held at an opportune time.

"We usually get low on donations this time of year," said Fran Bartlett, a volunteer for 10 years.

Volunteers are sorting through the 12,000 pounds of food that area Boys Scouts collected last weekend, but they know nothing stays on the shelves for long.

"We take all the help we can get and we need everything," said Thomas E. Canon, Food Sunday director. "I know 12,000 pounds sounds like a lot, but it's really only about a two-week supply."

The center usually distributes a ton of food to an average 40 families every day from its three food banks in Westminster, Eldersburg and Taneytown. Clients are eligible for one donation a week.

"We give them a nutritionally balanced package based on the size of the family," Mr. Canon said. "It helps them stretch what they can get with food stamps."

The centers can use "generally everything in the way of donations," he said. His greatest need is for volunteers.

"I am pot-lucking, subbing and overworking the volunteers I have," Mr. Canon said.

Most volunteers are retirees, who work all four days that the center is open.

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