SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – An iconic local fundraiser is underway on Monday, Rock 102’s Mayflower Marathon to benefit the Open Pantry.

This is the 30th year of Rock 102’s 52-hour marathon broadcast to benefit the Open Pantry, and the need for their services in the Greater Springfield Area has never been greater.

Rock 102’s Bax and Nagle will be broadcasting to raise money and food donations for Open Pantry at the South End Market at MGM Springfield. The broadcast officially began at 5:30 a.m. and runs through 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Last year, the drive raised more than $170,000 and filled three trucks with non-perishable food. They hope to raise more money and fill up a fourth truck.

You can make financial donations at the Rock 102 website, or bring food donations down to MGM any time during the marathon.

One in three families in the Springfield area is food insecure, meaning they don’t have reliable access to healthy, affordable nutrition. Food insecurity numbers skyrocketed during the pandemic and never returned to 2019 levels.

“The Mayflower Marathon fills their shelves for nine months, at least it did last year. And the need for food insecurity this year is almost double what we have seen before,” said Mike Baxendale, Rock 102’s ‘Bax and Nagel’.

This food and fundraiser is crucial to the work of the pantry, which distributed more than 476,000 pounds of food to people in need last year just through their Emergency Pantry program.

In addition, their Loaves and Fishes kitchen prepared and served 36,000 meals. They also have their two biggest holiday meals coming up, so it’s the perfect time of year to pitch in and help feed people in need.

This will be the second year at MGM Springfield, a meaningful partnership in the heart of downtown.

“This year, they have one more truck, so you would think logistics would be more difficult, but it has been smooth as silk. It’s nice we are right here off the highway you can come in and not even get out of your car,” said Beth Ward, Director of Public Affairs at MGM Springfield.

Your donation comes at a crucial time with the pantry’s holiday meals program hitting the busy season with Thanksgiving days away with Christmas close behind.

Local News

Duncan MacLean is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2019. Follow Duncan on X @DMacLeanWWLP and view his bio to see more of his work.