By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY – The ninth annual Fill a Cruiser Food Drive to benefit Our Neighbors’ Table will be held this Saturday, and residents are encouraged to come down and help fill the police cruiser with as much food as possible.
The drive will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Stop and Shop on Route 110, and all donations will go to help stock Our Neighbors’ Table’s food pantry during the busy holiday season, when the need is especially high.
Specifically, Our Neighbors’ Table is in need of soup and beef stew, canned chicken, canned meals like ravioli and spaghetti and meatballs, family sized peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, personal care items like shampoo and deodorant, and cash donations which can be used to purchase items like milk, eggs and bread.
The Fill a Cruiser Food Drive has become one of Our Neighbors’ Table’s most successful holiday food drives, but it isn’t the only drive the organization has planned in the coming weeks to support hungry residents through the winter.
On Dec. 7, Our Neighbor’s Table will hold a virtual chicken drive during the city’s annual Holiday Parade. The premise of the virtual drive is that instead of donating the food itself, residents will be encouraged to make cash donations, which will then be used to buy the food, according to Lyndsey Haight, Our Neighbors’ Table’s executive director.
There will also be another big pre-Christmas food drive at Stop and Shop on Dec. 14, and until the end of November, Our Neighbors’ Table will be engaging in its first ever fundraising appeal. For every dollar raised by Dec. 1, the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank will match up to $15,000.
Haight said a fundraising appeal has never been needed in the past due to the generosity of the community, but with demand reaching new heights, it’s becoming a bigger challenge to make sure the food pantry is adequately stocked.
“The food drives are really a critical resource to stock the non-perishables in our food pantry, but the funds we raise help us provide fresh food items like milk, vegetables and meats, things that we give out every week year round, it’s a big expense for us,” Haight said. “That’s a large part of what we need the funds for.”
Residents can make donations online at www.ourneighborstable.org, and residents interested in donating to the Fill a Cruiser Food Drive who can’t make it on Saturday can also drop off donations at the Amesbury Police Station anytime before or after the event.
This year’s Fill a Cruiser event will feature two special guests.
Wally the Green Monster will be in attendance from 9 to 9:45 a.m., and then the Boston Celtics Dancers will stop by from 10 a.m. until noon.
WNBP Radio will also be broadcasting live from Amesbury for the duration of the event.
Beyond the special guests, donors will also have a chance to check out a 2014 Camaro SS from Amesbury Chevrolet, and raffle tickets will be sold to win an autographed baseball signed by Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster.
The Fill a Cruiser Food Drive is put on by a partnership of the Amesbury Police Department, the Amesbury Police Officers’ Association, Our Neighbors’ Table, Stop and Shop, and the businesses of Carriagetown Plaza.