Teamsters facilitate 25,000-pound food donation

15 years ago
By Kathy McCarty  
Staff Writer

    What began as a little more than a noble dream has turned into a major accomplishment, with South Portland-based Teamsters Local 340 collecting 25,000 pounds of food and several hundred dollars in donation to benefit Catholic Charities of Maine in Caribou.

ImageStaff photo/Scott Mitchell Johnson
    Accepting food and monetary donations during the Maine Potato Blossom Parade July 19, a tractor-trailer truck from Teamsters Local 340 makes its way along the parade route in Fort Fairfield as volunteers collect donated items.

    “We did a statewide food drive, beginning in Kittery on July 17 and ending with the delivery of 25,000 of non-perishable food items and $850 in cash donations to Catholic Charities of Maine’s Caribou office,” said Traci Place, area business agent for Local 340. “Local 340 covers the entire state; I cover Fort Kent and Van Buren to Millinocket, Eastport and Calais.”
    Place said it was a “huge effort” but one that was “extremely rewarding.”
    The truck left Kittery July 17, stopping at a number of locations as it made its way north. Stops included: Biddeford, South Portland, Auburn, Augusta, Fairfield, Newport, Hermon, Medway, Houlton, Presque Isle and, finally, Fort Fairfield.
    “The food drive started in Kittery with a 48-foot Teamster truck from Joint Council 10. The truck arrived in Easton on Friday (July 17),” said Place, noting the truck collected donated items as it made its way north.
    The truck was entered in the Potato Blossom Parade, with many more contributions made along the route.
    “We had a fabulous day for the parade (held July 19). We collected additional food and monetary donations as we went,” Place said.
    From there, the tractor-trailer truck traveled to Caribou, with its final destination being Catholic Charities.
    “We took the collected goods to Caribou to unload. It was a huge undertaking. Donated items included crates of fresh bread. We also had arrangements made for delivery of a load of fresh milk,” said Place. “This was really huge.”
    Place credited Jim Carson, president of Teamster Local 340, with helping coordinate the effort. Organization members were pleased with the outcome.
    “We are so thankful and  overwhelmed with the public’s generosity and success we had. To say ‘thank you’ is just not sufficient. Words just aren’t enough,” said Place.
    When you factor in the state of the current economy, Place said it’s just hard to fathom how so much could be collected in such a short period of time.
    “When you consider the economy, people realized the importance of helping others and how, if circumstances change, it could be them needing the help,” she said.
    Place said all members of Local 340 gave, knowing they may never be on the receiving end.
    “Doing something like this makes us proud to be Teamsters,” said Place, adding that while the effort has received both print and television recognition, the organization did it simply in terms of ‘neighbors helping neighbors.’
    “Public support as a whole — statewide — was phenomenal. All items collected came here to Aroostook County,” said Place, noting Local 340 does a food drive but never anything on “such a grand scale as this.”
    Though exhausting, Place said she’s happy to have been a part of such a worthwhile cause.
    “This was so rewarding, knowing we’re helping those most in need,” said Place.
    Place said plans are already being discussed to possibly hold another such event in the future.