Despite winter weather conditions, the Fill the Plate fund-raiser for the Heritage Area Agency on Aging Home Delivered and Congregate Meal program on Sunday netted more than $100,000 for senior food programs in the several-county region that includes Benton County.

“It went well, but many people couldn’t make it because of the winter weather, and when they did come in, they were all wind-blown,” said Rep. Dawn Pettengill.

Yet, said Pettengill, organizers has enough volunteers to answer the phones throughout the event.

The event was set up with a variety of groups each helping at a set time; weather complicated those plans.

“We had a soldier from Illinois who couldn’t get back in time, so I went running through the place looking for a veteran,” says Pettengill. “I found Chris Harwood of Atkins. We had to be flexible.”

Many of the Cedar Rapids firemen were unable to participate because they were called to an emergency; the state legislators took their place.

Mike Riege and Mike Timmermans represented Virginia Gay Hospital on the phone bank.

Fareway and its customers also participated, donating a large quantity of food items.

The call volume was down a bit from last year, but more sponsors had made donations before the event.

The event raised more than $100,000 but about $200,000 is needed to cover all the meals expected to be served throughout the region in the coming year.

In Vinton, the food programs were about 7,200 meals short before the fund-raising event; the donations reduced that number to around 1,000.

“That’s still a lot,” said Pettengill who said that some programs had to reduce the quantity of items delivered to some clients.

Such reductions make seniors feel insecure, said Pettengill.

“I am hoping we can get enough for Benton County and the whole area,” she said. “I don’t want our seniors going hungry or worrying about going hungry. “I am focusing on these people because they worked their whole lives for the community and now its time for us to step up. I think everyone who participated was really glad they made the effort to get there. Some people from Des Moines came; they were so happy; they said they had never participated in anything like that and they found out how important that is.

Those who couldn’t participate in the telethon can still donate via the event web site,

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Comments (1)

I am curious about the quote "In Vinton, the food programs were about 7,200 meals short before the fund-raising event; the donations reduced that number to around 1,000." What food program in Vinton is being referred to. Thanks for your help!
By: Linda Lough on December 13th 3:13pm

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