Mayflower Marathon off to a strong start for Open Pantry donations

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Rock 102 radio personalities, Bax & O’Brien, hope when you’re out shopping for Thanksgiving, you also buy something for those in need.

“This is the time of year that people think about giving,” said radio personality John O’Brien.

They’re collecting nonperishable food donations and money for their 52-hour Mayflower Marathon food drive. It’s a combination of humor on-air and live music that makes the food drive, now in its 25th year, so successful for Open Pantry Community Services.

Humor, like when 22News asked Mike “Bax” Baxendale, why they host this event ever year. His response, “One. It’s a contractual obligation.” He went on to say, “We’ve had great success over the years. It’s one of the events that we do that’s a real community event for Springfield. It’s awesome.”

Comedians, like Bob Marley, called in to show their support. Musician Gary Hoey played a live sample of his guitar music.

The goal this year is $125,000 in food donations and cash. The need for donations is great. Believe it or not, at the end of this food drive, three or four trailers will be filled with nonperishable items, and that will only last the Open Pantry until about March.

In just the first few hours, Bax & O’Brien already reached a combined $5,600, and growing by the minute.

“People don’t have the food and stuff that we have. Simple as that,” said Sue Gilbert who donates each year.

“We had a few things extra at the house, so brought them up,” said Brad Presnick of Suffield, Connecticut.

Open Pantry serves about 20,000 people in the Pioneer Valley each year. This year, that number could be even higher.

“We’re getting an influx of population from Puerto Rico, some of the Hurricane disaster areas,” said Open Pantry Interim Executive Director Terry Maxey.

The Mayflower Marathon runs now through Wednesday morning at 10 outside the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

If you would like to make a cash donation to Open Pantry through the Mayflower Marathon, click here.

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