ALPENA - Eighteen food pantries in a four-county area of Northeast Michigan saw their supply shelves replenished Friday thanks to Hunters Harvest for Charity.
The charitable organization, in existence for the last 30-plus years, distributed a total of $18,000 worth of canned goods, plus 1,300 bags of potatoes, to the various pantries located throughout Alpena, Alcona, Montmorency and Presque Isle counties.
"People continue to need help," Hunters Harvest member Mark Boyk said. "This replenishes the food pantries from winter. Then in the fall, we help them to get ready for the winter."
News Photo by Diane Speer
Cory Pelto of St. Vincent de Paul looks on as Jeff Wozniak, an employee of Great North Foods, loads his truck with canned goods Friday during a Hunters Harvest for Charity food giveaway. St. Vincent’s was one of 18 area food pantries to receive a share of $18,000 worth of canned items and 1,300 bags of potatoes.
The $18,000 that paid for the food items distributed Friday came from the annual Hunters Harvest wild game dinner held in January. Styma Farms in Posen donated the 1,300 bags of potatoes.
This year's wild game dinner raised a record amount of $63,000 in a single night.
"We had to print 50 more tickets this year for the dinner and we sold every one of them," said fellow Hunters Harvest volunteer Marty Skiba, whose father was among the original founders of the charitable organization. "Instead of 500 people attending, we had 550 people. What other event do know like this that can raise $63,000 in one night?"
The food was given out at Great North Foods in Alpena, where trucks representing all the different pantries waited their turn to receive their portion. Among those on hand was Cory Pelto, an employee of St. Vincent de Paul in Alpena, who accepted a load of 100 bags of potatoes and multi cases of canned goods.
"We go through a lot of food," Pelto said, adding the pantry at St. Vincent's is open to the needy in the area each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Art Getzinger, representing Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rogers City, also picked up a load of food for his church's long-time food pantry that is coordinated by his wife, Beth.
"The church has been operating the food pantry there for 30 years," Getzinger said. "Getting this food is very helpful. We just put together four new sets of shelves to accommodate the food at the church."
Westminster's food pantry is open on the first and third Wednesday of the month, with proof of income required.
In addition to the $18,000 in food given out Friday, Hunters Harvest already has allocated another estimated $30,000 to needy groups and individuals in the area.
"It goes to fire victims and cancer victims and those suffering hardships," said Boyk, whose brother, John, was among the original Hunters Harvest founders.
"The money raised at the wild game dinner all stays local," Skiba said. "We like to let people know where the money goes and what it goes for."
Both volunteers expressed their appreciation to all the people who come out each year in support of the fundraising dinner.