RUTLAND - It's time to pack the Paramount again. Organizers of the annual Pack the Paramount Food Drive hope to exceed last year's record with a new record of 20,000 food items.
"The need is great, but the greater Rutland community has shown repeatedly that it can do great things when it sets its collective mind to something," said CVPS spokesman Steve Costello, one of the organizers. "As we've done with the Gift-of-Life Marathon, we've set an ambitious goal in hopes of inspiring the community to turn out."
Costello said this year's food drive starts 6 a.m. Friday, June 17, and and ends that day at 7 p.m. On Saturday, June 18, the drive starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m.
"Donors can bring non-perishable food items to the Paramount Theatre on Center Street in Rutland," Costello said. "The objective is to fill every seat with a box or bag of food, demonstrating the hundreds of families who need assistance in the Rutland area. The food will go to BROC, the Rutland Community Cupboard and the Salvation Army."
Like last year, soon to be Central Vermont Public Service, Catamount Radio, the Paramount Theatre and Omya are teaming up to organize the event. The event will be broadcast live on various Catamount Radio stations on both days. WJJR-FM radio will broadcast Friday, 6 a.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Catamount's other station, 94.5 the Drive, will broadcast Friday, 7-10 a.m.
"We know it's a tough economy and a lot of people are hurting, so we want to encourage people to do whatever they can," WJJR on-air personality Terry Jaye said.
A friendly student-group competition has also been created. Costello said CVPS will donate $500 to the school group that brings in the most items.
"All types of non-perishable food are appreciated, but certain items are in great demand. Peanut butter, jelly, canned tuna, pasta, pasta sauce, hearty soups, macaroni and cheese, cereal, coffee and tea, instant potatoes, rice and bottled juice are most popular. Other items, including baby food, toilet tissue, paper towels, hygiene products and large-size items for families, are not as frequently donated, but greatly needed. Cash donations, which will be used to purchase food for the participating food shelves, will also be accepted," according to CVPS' Costello.