This Autumn, AARP asked their six Maine Chapter to join us in the Drive to End Hunger “Chapter Challenge.” We asked each chapter to work with their local food pantries to develop a food drive in their community.
See Also: Hungry in America: What We Can Do
We had an outstanding success across the state due to their efforts. Over 8000 pounds of food were collected and given to local food pantries and our members worked very hard to help their neighbors in need. In addition, $2,434 was collected to support local food pantries.
The winner of the Chapter Challenge is the Augusta Chapter #511 where members collected 2028 pounds of food. The Chapter worked with 6 area food pantries plus held a raffle for Meals on Wheels and raised $634 for that critical program. Food drives were held at the Amory in Augusta, the Churches and Fire Station in Gardiner, Hannaford’s in Winthrop, Cohen Senior Center in Hallowell and in the towns of Chelsea and King’s Mills. The collection box in Gardiner fire station had to be emptied 5 times, they had such support from that community.
Next in line and not far behind was Millinocket Chapter #2652 with a total of 1951 pounds of food and money donations totaling $1,380.45. Over 28 volunteers ran a two day food drive at the local IGA over two week-ends, one in Oct. and one in Nov. The whole town came out to support them. The food was distributed amongst 3 local food pantries which received 650 pounds of food along with $600 each.
Also a big winner was the Oxford Hills Chapter #5297 that filled a boat with 1492 pounds of food for their local food pantry. A dozen AARP volunteers fought the rain and wind to gather enough food to fill a boat that was donated for the event. Luckily there was a blue tarp handy to cover the boat during the rain! A local bank donated their parking lot so the boat and food drive was in a prime location.
Because of the hard work and efforts of these chapters, many Mainers will have something good to eat this winter as they struggle to meet their basic needs. Maine is the 9th highest in food insecurity among older adults as an AARP Foundation report shows. We have twice the food insecurity as our neighbor state NH, and the highest in New England.
AARP was founded over 50 years ago by one woman, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, who was determined to make a difference in the lives of others. Her motto was “to serve, not to be served.” Clearly, the Maine AARP chapters are to be congratulated for celebrating her legacy through their extraordinary efforts to help their neighbors.
If you would like more information about AARP chapters in Maine, or if you are interested in starting a new chapter in your area, please contact Greg Cross, Community Outreach Director for AARP in Maine at 207-776-6302 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.