JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County YMCA is kicking off its brand-new “Y Cares” service initiative Monday with a food drive to help restock the Fulmont-Gloversville Food Pantry during the uncertain times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The food drive will take a two-pronged approach. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, there will be a drive-up drop-off station in the YMCA’s parking lot at 213 Harrison St. for donating food and other items requested by the Fulmont-Gloversville Food Pantry.There will also be a virtual food drive where people can go online and make donations directly to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.
Christopher Defibaugh, CEO of the Fulton County YMCA, said in a phone interview last week that the food drive and the entire “Y Cares” initiative are a way of cementing the YMCA’s connection with the Fulton County community during difficult times.
“We’re really trying to figure out, in these challenging times for all of us, how to support our community,” Defibaugh said. “One of the things that came up was, how can we reach out to local people and local families that might be in need at this time?
“It’s a way for us, as a YMCA, to let our community and our members know that we’re thinking about them. We miss them, and we want to support them in any way we can.”
The event was organized in consultation with the Fulton County Department of Health to ensure all social distancing guidelines are followed throughout the food drive. The health department will also be on-site Monday morning to make sure the event is being optimally run.
Those wishing to donate can enter the YMCA parking lot and follow signage to the drop-off stations. The public will be able to drop off items into drive-up collection boxes without leaving their cars.
The Fulmont-Gloversville Food Pantry has provided a list of needed food items, including peanut butter, jelly, canned pasa, chili, soups, beef stew, boxed or bagged pasta, noodles, oatmeal, boxed pancake mix, boxed cereal, canned meats, instant milk, canned vegetables, peas, corn, potatoes, spaghetti sauce, tuna helper, boxed rice, canned fruit and pork and beans.
The food drive will also be accepting personal care items including toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, toilet paper, diapers, laundry detergent and shampoo.
“We reached out to [the food pantry] and said, ‘Hey, what do you guys need? What are you looking for?’ Defibaugh said. “They came back with that list of items. As families and people go through challenges, it’s not just food that might be challenging, but basic hygiene. I think we can all understand, in this time of avid hand-washing, that the better our hygiene is, the better our health is going to be.”
Health and safety instructions for the event are posted on the YMCA’s Facebook page and website.
Both of those pages will also feature links for the virtual food drive, allowing those who are uncomfortable venturing outside their homes to chip in.
“We want to make sure that we’re being socially responsible,” Defibaugh said. “We understand that some folks might not feel comfortable venturing out. Even though we’re partnering with the Department of Health and have gotten the go-ahead on the food drive to make sure that we’re maintaining social distancing, we recognize that folks may be nervous about that and we want to give them the opportunity to help give back that’s comfortable for them.”