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Local food pantries get holiday boost

| January 4, 2007 11:00 PM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

Town Pump stations in Libby and Troy recently raised a total of $8,500 for the communities' food pantries.

That's good news for Sue Grabinski, director of Troy Food Bank, which received $3,200.

"They sent me a check for $1,700 that Town Pump actually raised (at the Troy store) and gave us (an additional) $1,500 match. For a little community like Troy, that's pretty darn good."

In Libby, $5,300 was raised. That includes a $2,500 match from the Town Pump Charitable Foundation.

"It helps us out tremendously," said Kathy Lauer of the Libby Food Pantry. "From about October until spring is the most demanding time. Having the money come in during the holidays is really a wonderful thing for us."

Town Pump and the Town Pump Charitable Foundation, in partnership with food banks across Montana, raised a record $910,000; the goal was $750,000.

"That's an extraordinary amount," said Maureen Kenneally with Town Pump Charitable Foundation. "We are truly grateful to all Montanans who so generously contributed to the food bank fundraiser."

The total for the fifth annual "Be A Friend in Deed, Helping Those in Need" campaign, which ended Nov. 30, included a $200,000 matching donation from the foundation. Money was collected at Town Pump locations statewide, as well as 46 participating food banks in 44 communities.

The 2006 campaign raised $250,000 more than the previous year and brings the five-year total to more than $2.3 million for Montana food banks. The Town Pump Charitable Foundation has contributed $600,000 to the campaigns in those five years.

In Troy, the $3,200 will go a long way to feed 128 households, of which 65 normally get food.

"The $3,200 will get us through half of the year," Grabinski said.

The food pantry in Troy also gets money from the United Way of Flathead County and private donations. The Troy High School National Honor Society also made a significant contribution with a food drive in December.

"They went all out," Grabinski said. "We got 1,200 pounds of canned goods and box mixes. They've never done that before. Usually they get 400, 500 or 600 pounds. They've must've really pushed it."

In related matters, Time Warner Cable contributed 350 pounds of food to Libby Food Bank over the holiday. When new customers signed up for cable or Road Runner high-speed Internet, they received free installation in exchange for donating non-perishable food items to the food bank.