Caring & Sharing: 6th Annual WTSN Food Drive Ongoing in Dover; Donations Needed

By Robert M. Cook (
Friday, November 6, 2009

Jim Proulx unloads food donations during the annual WTSN food drive in Dover Thursday. EJ Hersom/Staff photographer (Photo courtesy

DOVER — Just a few skids of banana boxes packed with canned goods and nonperishable food items sat inside the vacant former Ames Department store Thursday morning at the beginning of the 6th annual Caring & Sharing food drive.

Mike Dafoe, general manager of Dover radio stations WTSN 1270 AM and The Bay 98.7 FM hopes the 60,000-square-foot store will be filled with skids of donated food by Monday morning when more than 20 Seacoast food pantries, soup kitchens and food banks will arrive to stock up for the winter.

"Each one will get a skid of food," Dafoe said.

Each skid contains 24 banana boxes weighing up to 40 to 50 pounds each, Dafoe said. Depending on how many skids are available Monday morning, he said the recipient groups can also take as many skids as they and their volunteers can transport.

Dafoe said the need for food, and cash donations has never been greater. Dafoe noted the cash donations are transformed into Hannaford supermarket gift cards with a five percent bonus added to each one by the Portland, Maine, based chain.

"What we have been saying on our radio stations is we're helping our friends, neighbors and those who got laid off from their jobs who didn't expect to be in this situation," Dafoe said.

The recession and economic downturn has put many more families at risk of going hungry during the upcoming holiday season and beyond. Dafoe said he, and the radio station staff are determined not to let that happen. The staff and community representatives will do live broadcasts until Monday from Hannaford supermarket parking lots in Dover, Portsmouth, Rochester and York, Maine.

Observers Thursday morning could see it certainly didn't take much to convince area residents to stop by the radio station's trailer in front of the former Ames store and donate food items.

Karen McBride of Rochester said she was on her way to work and purchased a few groceries at the supermarket. She donated a $10 "fundafeast" meal sold by Hannaford to the food drive. She said she also donated food to the event a year ago at the Rochester Hannaford store.

Tonya Ladrie of Dover donated cans of vegetables and boxes of macaroni and cheese to the food drive after she purchased some food at the store.

"We always do. It's good to help other people. It's tough times this year," she said.

Ladrie and McBride both said it makes them feel good just knowing they are helping other people in need feed their families.

Dafoe said the food drive's goal is to take in enough skids of food and toiletry items such as soap, shampoo, and toothpaste to help food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and other charitable groups feed people in need from Thanksgiving to the spring.

A year ago, he said, the food drive received 750 boxes of food and more than $15,000 in cash that was turned into Hannaford gift cards. Those donations were enough to provide food to more than 100,000 people in the Seacoast, he said.

Given the difficult economy, Dafoe said he is a little concerned the food drive might not reach that same goal this year. But, he said, the food drive received $800 in cash donations just a few hours after it began Thursday morning and several food items. He said people who work at Dover Dental Associates in the Hannaford shopping plaza decided to donate $500 they had set aside for their Christmas party to help the hungry instead.

Dafoe said Jim Jalbert, owner of C&J Trailways, pledged to match all the food and money collected on Friday as a way to honor radio morning show personality Mike Pomp's 25th anniversary on the air.

The Caring & Sharing food drive will also hold several family events at the Hannaford parking lot and at the Dover Ice Arena this weekend to generate donations.

For example, the first 100 people who donated at least five food items on Thursday morning received a gift certificate from Papa Gino's for one large, thin crust cheese pizza.

EJ Hersom/Staff photographer Jay Bent, left, and Jim Proulx pull a pallet of donated food Thursday during the WTSN radio food drive in Dover. (Photo courtesy

Dafoe said people who donate at least five cans of food will receive a free laser tag game at Hilltop Family Fun Center in Somersworth based on first come availability.

On Saturday, the Dover Mounted Patrol and the Dover Fire Department will do a barbecue as part of a special Children's Day, Dafoe said. The mascot of the Maine Red Claws basketball team in Portland, Maine, which is the Boston Celtics new NBA Developmental League team, will also be on hand, he said. Ron Reid will also being doing karaoke from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., he said.

On Sunday, people can ice skate at Dover Ice Arena and get ice skate rentals for free from 1 to 3:30 p.m. if they donate at least five cans of food or nonperishable food items, Dafoe said.

Besides C&J Trailways, the Caring & Sharing event's other sponsors include: Davies Tire, D.F. Richard Energy, Federal Savings Bank, Profile Bank, Proulx Oil & Propane, Seacoast Sleep Solutions, Wentworth Douglass-Hospital, Wingate Salon & Spa, and York Hospital in York, Maine.