The Empty Pantry Fund has been providing Christmas food baskets to needy Blount County citizens since 1952, and this year, the public can take a bite out of hunger by having a bite at four local restaurants.
Empty Pantry Fund President Lon Fox said Chicken Salad Chick, Petro’s Chili & Chips, Rocky’s Jamaica Sunrise and The Soup Kitchen have stepped up to give their customers an opportunity to help others while enjoying a good meal themselves.
Chicken Salad Chick, 726 Watkins Road, Maryville, is holding a promotion in which customers can donate $5 for “Giving Cards” and receive $60 in Chicken Salad Chick rewards in 2021. Donations received for the Giving Cards all benefit Empty Pantry Fund. The promotion begins Monday and runs through Dec. 31.
The restaurant partnered with Empty Pantry Fund in 2019 with Giving Cards, Fox said. “Last year they raised $2,540,” he said. “This year, they’ve ordered twice as many of the Giving Cards and the anticipation is that they are going to raise even more money. That would be fantastic.”
Petro’s Chili & Chips, 1427 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville, will offer a percentage of sales to Empty Pantry Fund on Monday, Nov. 30. Fundraiser guests must present the official event flyer, either a hard copy or on a smart phone, upon ordering. The flyer will be available through the Empty Pantry Fund’s Facebook page.
Rocky’s Jamaica Sunrise, 501 N Cusick, Maryville, is offering giving cards, as well. Customers who donate $5 will receive $40 in rewards, including five $1 off coupons for a meat and side item, three coupons for $5 off a $25 purchase and two coupons for $10 off a $50 purchase.
The Soup Kitchen, 245 Calderwood. Alcoa, will donate a percentage of sales to Empty Pantry Fund on Wednesday, Dec. 9. “You must tell them you’re there for the Empty Pantry Fund to get the donation,” Fox said.
Donations are lagging behind what had been received at this time last year. “We already have a shortfall of about $12,000,” he said, due to the cancellation of the annual Daily Times Golf Tournament and reduction in donation amounts from other sources. To meet the goal of $122,000, other means of fundraising, such as the restaurant promotions, are necessary.
“We’re hoping that this promotion will provide us a non-traditional opportunity for community members to make smaller donations that will add up with the volume of donations,” he said.
Fox also noted that COVID-19 has mandated changes in the way volunteers, many of whom make Empty Pantry Fund packing and/or delivery a part of their Christmas tradition, will be able to participate.
“In the past, we all knew when packing night would be and volunteers just showed up” at the Tennessee Army National Guard Armory, Fox said. “This year, we are limited to about 50 people at a time so volunteers have to sign up in order to come.” Packing day, Thursday, Dec. 17, will take place all day long and three shifts of volunteer time have been set up. To sign up, visit the Empty Pantry Fund website at www.emptypantryfund.com.
Delivery day changes are also in place. For the first time in the Empty Pantry Fund’s history, recipients who can do so will be picking up their food baskets and toys through Junior Service League of Maryville’s Toys for Blount County on Saturday, Dec. 19, at the Armory, and those who are homebound will be the only deliveries made on Sunday, Dec. 20. Volunteers are needed for both days and must sign up on the website.
Donations to date include:
BALANCE FORWARD: $50,563.50
In memory of Roger Cardin by Bill Cardin and Linda Henderson, $50
In memory of Curtis Lowe by Barbara Lowe, $50
In memory of Robert Francis Lee Byrd by Steve and Rhonda Byrd, $100
Larry and Ramona Armstrong, $300
In memory of French and Margaret Lawson and F.B. Ladd and Rosa Ladd by Lynn and Larry Ladd, $100
In memory of our loved ones from the Rozella Tallent Family, $100
Wilson and Sue Borden, $100
Linda and Francis Turmo, $100
Betty Peabody, $100
Jerry and Carolyn Glein, $100.53
In memory of Joe Rorex Jr. by Myrtle Rorex, $100
Peggy and Bob Wallace, $150