JCEO looking for votes in Pepsi Refresh Project

PLATTSBURGH - There's only a matter of days left until the end of the month, and Bruce Garcia is hoping the community will help make every one of those days count. The Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties Inc., the nonprofit organization which assists underprivileged families in the two-county region, is in JCEO grant its second running for one of 10 $25,000 grants from the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project. Garcia, who serves as executive director for the JCEO, said he's hoping the second time will be the charm.

"We were in the running last month," said Garcia, "and we ended up at 87th. What happens is if you make the top 100, they automatically qualify you for another month's worth of voting."

The Refresh Everything Project opens submitted causes up to the public to vote on which projects they'd like to see funded most. The proposed project to fund for JCEO, said Garcia, is to make improvements to its food pantry, including purchasing new freezers, refrigerators, and shelving.

However, the improvements aren't just because JCEO wants to make an upgrade - it's because one is needed, said Garcia. In the last year and a half, JCEO has arranged cooperative agreements with Wal-Mart, Target, Sam's Club, and Yando's that give JCEO donations of "an extraordinary amount of food."

"We've gotten over 120,000 pounds of food from those entities," he said. "The problem is, it's really stretched our resources. Some of our coolers are older and now they're full all the time and really working hard. It's been great from the standpoint that we've been able to give low-income families really balanced nutrition, more than we've even been able to do before, but we need better equipment to store the food properly."

And, though JCEO is competing against 247 other entries in their category, Garcia said he feels the people of the North Country will step up to support JCEO in its endeavor.

"We've made a lot of progress in the course of a month," said Garcia. "If we can keep the momentum up, maybe we can get into the top 10."

Voting for JCEO can be done free on-line at www.refresheverything.com/jceofeedsthehungry. Votes may also be cast by texting 102876 to 73774 - the numeric translation for "Pepsi." Standard text messaging rates apply. Votes may be cast once a day per person.

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