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Sunday in Country provides holiday meals

Organizers of the Sunday in the Country Food Drive are working hard to raise as much money as possible to buy full turkey dinners before the holidays for those in need.“Fundraising is slow,” said food drive founder and organizer “NASCAR” Dave MacMillan. But his group is proceeding undaunted. Even if they aren’t able to match the bounty of past years, they will do the best they can. This year that might mean getting turkeys to the 16 food banks around the Tri-state region that participate in the Sunday in the Country Food Drive —but without the extra fixings.“I would say this is the toughest year so far,” said MacMillan, who started the annual food drive 18 years ago. The economy is tough, he said. There are more nonprofits and more people in need. And donors are tightening their own belts. According to MacMillan, at this time last year the food drive had $30,000; this year, it has about $12,000. What that probably will mean is that instead of providing the 620 full Thanksgiving meals it did last year, which included 12- to 14-pound turkeys with potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, soup and pumpkin pie mix, the food drive might only be able to provide 620 turkeys with no sides.“There’s no question there’s a great need,” MacMillan added, citing the Roe Jan food pantry in Copake as an example. “We typically give them 50 dinners, but then I realized they give out 147 Thanksgiving dinners, so they get some from other sources. I didn’t realize they served so many, and there’s no way we could supply them all. They just appreciate the 50 they get from us. But there’s a big need out there.”Sunday in the Country (which is named after a radio program MacMillan used to host) also provides Christmas dinners to food pantries throughout the Tri-state region. MacMillan is hopeful that by December word will be out that the program is tight on funds, which will generate more capital to buy food for those in need. He estimated that “we’ll need to serve about 580 dinners for Christmas.”To help raise money for this year’s holiday meals, students in the CAPS program at Maplebrook School in Amenia recently collected money door-to-door from area businesses. MacMillan said he’s been working with CAPS for six years and it’s been a wonderful relationship.“Personally, I don’t care if it’s been $100 or $100,000,” he said. “I want to thank Maplebrook School and the CAPS program for what they’ve done for us. It’s one of the highlights of the food drive. I look forward to it every year and thank them for getting involved — it makes my Thanksgiving.”After all is said and done, MacMillan said the reason why he puts so much work into the food drive, and so much of his personal energy and dedication, is quite simple.“I don’t like to see anybody hungry,” he said. “If we can fill bellies, that’s what it’s all about.”To send a donation to the food drive, which is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization (so all donations are tax deductible), mail it to Sunday in the Country Food Drive, PO Box 789, Millerton, NY 12546.

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