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Food pantry gets record amount of donations

Charly Haley / The Sun Employees of Newman Signs and Cavendish Farms unload their donations at the Salvation Army food pantry Wednesday. The donations were from a competition between the two companies, along with UTC Aerospace Systems and Cargill. All four companies’ donations totaled a record-breaking 9,126 items.

The Salvation Army food pantry in Jamestown has been stocked with a record amount of items from four local businesses — just in time for the holidays.

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The annual donation competition between Cargill Malt, Cavendish Farms, UTC Aerospace Systems and Newman Signs hauled in 9,126 non-perishable food and personal hygiene items for the food pantry.

Last year’s total donation was about 4,000 or 5,000 items, said LeAnna Brown, food pantry manager at the Salvation Army.

“The food drive here, this will help out through the holidays and into the winter months,” said Lt. Mitch Brecto, of the Salvation Army. “It’s a tremendous blessing.”

Brecto, Brown and employees of the four companies unloaded the donated items into the food pantry Wednesday.

This is the third year the local businesses have competed to see which could donate the most items per employee in a two-week food drive.

For the second year in a row, Newman Signs won the contest, beating out Cavendish by only .54 food item per employee.

“We were determined to defend our title,” said Chris Rathjen, administrative manager at Newman Signs. “It’s important for the community, and we were pretty excited.”

Newman Signs, which only joined the other three businesses in the contest last year, won by donating 1,695 items, or 16.95 per employee.

As a prize for winning, Newman Signs gets to keep the contest’s traveling plaque.

Cavendish employees donated 3,413 items, or 16.41 per employee. UTC gave 3,730 items, or 8 per employee, and Cargill gave 288 items, or 3.2 per employee.

“It’s very needed,” Brown said about the food drive. “It means a lot to know that there’s people out there that still care.”

The food pantry often struggles to meet needs, Brecto said, but this boost in donations should carry the pantry through the beginning of 2014.

“Our pantry will not be bare for a while,” Brown said.

Becky Kercher, human resources administrator at Cavendish and one of the food drive’s organizers, said she’s amazed at the generosity of the companies’ employees.

“We just thought it was a really good idea, as a way for our employees to give back to the community,” Kercher said.

Brecto said he’s collecting food drive donations from Jamestown High School next week.

Anyone interested in donating to the Salvation Army can visit at 320 1st Ave. N., Jamestown, or contact Brecto at 701-252-0290 or

Sun reporter Charly Haley can be reached at 701-952-8455

or by email at

Charly Haley
Charly Haley covers city government for the Grand Forks Herald. As night reporter, she also has many general assignments. Before working at the Herald, she was a reporter at the Jamestown Sun and interned at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes Newspapers and the St. Cloud Times. Haley is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and her hometown is Sartell, Minn.
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