POUGHKEEPSIE – In an effort to assist Dutchess Outreach (DO), which operates a food pantry in Poughkeepsie, Foreign Car Specialists and the Poughkeepsie Galleria held a food drive on Saturday at the mall to help replenish the organization’s pantry supplies.
The event was a “car show” of sorts where participants would bring non-perishable food items for DO and show off their cars. The torrential downpours that lasted the entire day kept most show cars away but did not dampen the support given to DO.
Starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the mall parking lot, countless donors pulled up to the tents where volunteers would greet them, take their donations of food or money, and hand them off to staff and volunteers of Dutchess Outreach.
The “Pandemic CANdemic Relief Mobilization ” was originated when Lisa and Kevin Eckler, owners of Foreign Car Specialists in Poughkeepsie, tried to figure out how to help those in need during the pandemic. Lisa said, “My husband Kevin and I were both raised with a strong sense of community. When the pandemic started, we knew we needed to do something to help and we are glad we can do this to help feed those in need.”
The Eckler team called on their many business contacts to get sponsorship. Redl’s Towing, iHeart Media, and Durants Party Rentals immediately signed on to the Eckler plan, joining with the Poughkeepsie Galleria. Several other businesses followed.
Dutchess Outreach Associate Director Tara Whalen worked all day with her staff and volunteers to load the food in the trailer and thank the donors. “This was one of the most successful food drives we have had in recent years,” said Whalen, adding “I expected the weather to keep people away – I was awed by the generosity of people that showed up with food and money. It was amazing.”
Dutchess Outreach board member Todd Bender attended and called the event “A major success due to the tremendous efforts put forth by Foreign Car Specialists and the Galleria’s general manager, Kate Fakler. I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for their commitment to the event.”
Whalen added, “We took in thousands of pounds of non-perishable food and more than $1,300 in monetary donations from donors, with Redl’s Towing leading the way. That money will go a long way in helping us feed those in crisis.”
Poughkeepsie Town Supervisor Jay Baisley, owner of Channingville Deli, has been collecting food at both his store and town hall for Dutchess Outreach. Baisley showed up Saturday with five large boxes of donations that were contributed by his deli customers. “I put the word out in the store and my customers responded immediately with substantial donations. Our customers are more like family and we help each other. This is just one example.”
Wappingers Falls hot dog cart owner “Papa Joe” Cauchi set up shop in the lot to keep visitors fed. Hot dogs, sausage and pepper sandwiches and the like were made to order and the Poughkeepsie Galleria picked up the lunch tab for all of the volunteers. Galleria general manager Kate Fakler was excited about the turnout. Using a play on words, the general manager said, “Even with the heavy rains, the outpouring of support from the donors, volunteers, and everyone that helped was incredible. Hunger is not just a problem during this pandemic – it’s a problem every day. The Poughkeepsie Galleria is part of this community and we take pride in helping our neighbors during difficult times. Dutchess Outreach helps countless people overcome obstacles such as hunger and the Galleria is more than willing to support their mission.”