SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Rock 102 Mayflower Marathon is underway right now! Every year, the event collects non-perishable items and monetary donations for the Open Pantry ahead of Thanksgiving.

It’s the 29th consecutive year of a western Massachusetts tradition focused on helping those in need. For the last 20 years, the event has been hosted at the Hall of Fame parking lot. However, this year the Hall of Fame said it could no longer accommodate the event due to ‘anticipated increased parking needs.’ MGM Springfield jumped in to host this important community event.

“We are just thrilled. I mean being apart of the community is just what MGM does, we have a dozen volunteers here already and we’re going to have volunteers here throughout the whole three days and we couldn’t be more excited. We want to make it a record breaking event as well,” said MGM Springfield Community Affairs Manager Beth Ward.

Those looking to donate can enter from East Columbus Avenue, the road has been converted to a one way for the purpose of the event. People can drop off their items to volunteers.

“This is obviously the first year we’re in a new location and we just encourage people to come down to MGM, outside the South End Market and drop off your food donations,” said Rock 102’s Steve Nagle.

The event is hosted by Rock 102’s Bax and Nagle, broadcast straight from MGM from Monday morning through Wednesday at 10, a total of 52 hours. They’re on the air, encouraging people to support the cause.

“Non-perishables mostly. We’re take cash, cash is delicious too. Mostly cans of food, boxes of food, pasta, rice… that kind of stuff, stuff that’s going to last for a good long time without expiration dates,” said Rock 102’s Bax.

All proceeds will benefit the Open Pantry Services of Springfield. In 2021, the event raised $127,000 in food and funds for the organization.

Executive Director Terry Maxey of the Open Pantry Community Services told 22News, “The need is definitely growing, we’re looking at inflation and things going on in the community. People are looking to subsidizes what they’re putting on the kitchen table.”

Donations will be accepted at the MGM Springfield collection site through Wednesday at 10 a.m. If you can’t make it down to Springfield, Gary Rome Hyundai is also collecting donations for the Mayflower Marathon at it’s Holyoke location. Those who can’t make it in person can also donate online.

“It’s always good to give back to the community and help out wherever,” said Aydan Knight from Ontario Canada.

“There’s people around here that don’t have much food to eat. And I’ve got plenty, so I thought I’d share it,” said Bill Murphy of Springfield.

As the Open Pantry continues to see growing demand for their services and the need for donations of non-perishable food items is increasing.

“Well I just think it’s good for the community just to give back and show that people who are struggling during the holidays because it is a stressful time you know people are struggling to make ends meet and get all those necessities that you would need to celebrate Christmas,” said Knight.

As of the end of Tuesday morning, more than $112,000 dollars has been collected in food and funds.