Reflections on 30 years for the Sunday in the Country Food Drive
How time flies! Who would ever have thought in 1992, with two turkeys, which by the way were donated to us, that the food drive would still be here in 2022? It all started in 1992 at WKZE AM 1020 where the late Bob Chatfield AKA Chocolate Cupcake and myself, Nascar Dave, gave two turkeys to families we knew could use them for Thanksgiving. Bob had a Sunday Morning in the Country show to which I contributed the weekly race report. In 1993, seven donated turkeys followed by 1994, which saw 14 turkeys. It was at that point we contacted the Sharon Food Pantry and donated them to the pantry. In 1995, we moved to Lakeville and Q103 FM, where the donations continued. That’s when volunteer Randy Christensen came up with, “We’re going for 103 turkeys.”
So we started door to door solicitation. We made that goal and started adding pantries. As more and more donors came onboard we started adding dry food to go with the turkeys. The late Dave Waldron came onboard as well as Nitro Dave Watts and helped raise the bar each year and worked tirelessly to reach our goal. Unfortunately, both Daves passed away too early. I still think of them often along with co-founder Chocolate Cupcake.
This was in early 2000. Our very first public fundraiser was the chicken cook-off in which Ancram Fire Dept. participated and donated all the chicken and did so for years, even when it grew to 200 halves. Linda and Jack Gregory along with the late Diane Kelly and her daughter, Kathleen Howard, and I wanted to do a dinner dance. The first one was hugely successful and was at Silo Ridge. Rob Canners, the general manager, and the owner donated the space, food and servers for that event. We raised $15,000 with that one event. We continued that event for a number of years. So by now we’re getting known mostly through the radio show on Sunday mornings and were now up to 13 pantries in three states and fundraising was averaging $25,000 a year. Along with Thanksgiving we added Christmas.
Lots of folks came on board. We partnered with SWSA, the Canaan Exchange Club and most importantly the Maplebrook School which all continue to support us. Maplebrook brings me a lot of great memories. Colleen McGhee-Anstett approached me about allowing her students there to go to the businesses and make the communities aware of the organization. It was a winner and the event with Maplebrook continues today. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Stacey Moore and her team at Moore and More Printing. We have partnered with this organization, the Adopt-A-Family Program, which she runs each year. Stacey is one person who is the ultimate community go-to person who gets very little recognition for her service. There are so many who helped over the years, from all the Tri-state region, you are too numerous to mention here but all so appreciated.
In 2018, Chris and I decided to retire to Florida, but we were not sure if the food drive would continue. When we let the core group know our plans, Bill and Colleen Anstett stepped up and agreed to continue along with the entire old and new group. So on they go with COVID pandemic and now having to deal with new fundraising techniques. They have conquered that and are very successful in keeping the needs of our community met.
At this writing, I believe about 600 meals are needed for Christmas.
In closing, the thought of 30 years is overwhelming. I want everyone to know this is not about what was started in 1992. It was and is about need in the communities and the generosity of neighbors helping neighbors. The food drive is truly a Tri-state area event. Thank you for all the success.
If you’d like to contribute, send to the Sunday in the Country Food Drive, P.O. Box 789, Millerton, N.Y. 12546. In Nitro Dave’s words to all the recipients, “You are our friends and neighbors and we say, ‘You’re welcome.’ “
Nascar Dave MacMillan worked tirelessly on the Sunday in the Country Food Drive every year from 1992 until he and Chris moved to Florida in 2018.