WINTHROP — The shelves at the Winthrop Food Pantry better be reinforced.

They were loaded with more than a ton of food collected Friday on Make a Difference Day at Winthrop schools.

The food is accompanied by $1,700 in cash, also collected as part of the drive.

“Man, we got a lot more money this year than ever before,” said an enthused Karen Criss, principal at the middle and high schools.

Keith Morin, assistant principal at the schools provided a breakdown by class of the collection:

* Ninth graders: 428 pounds of food, $365;

* 10th graders: 732 pounds of food, $278.89;

* 11th graders: 367 pounds of food, $478.89;

* 12th graders: 688 pounds of food, $517.20; and

* Winthrop Middle School: 180 pounds of food.

There was an additional donation of $60.02 to bring the total fund to $1,700.

“With this amount on its own, the food pantry will be able to purchase over 10,000 pounds of food,” Morin said. “Some students went door to door to collect food and others donated money they had collected from odd jobs.”

The food was packed into trucks and volunteers from the pantry drove to the pantry at 25 High St. and unloaded it there.

“This is dramatically more money; last year was about $1,000,” said JoEllen Cottell, executive director of the food pantry, which serves residents of Winthrop and Wayne. “The food is critical, and we can do a lot with the money. Our storeroom was getting very, very bare, and this was wonderful, quite a bounty. We were stunned with how much they collected.”

This week, the food pantry will be open Thursday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

The food pantry is distinct from the former Hot Meals Kitchen that previously offered meals at noon in the St. Francis Xavier Church hall during the school year.

The nonprofit food pantry operates on a $15,000 annual budget, paying its own rent and utilities.

Morin said a number of businesses helped with the Make a Difference Day collection, including Walmart of Augusta, Progressive Distributors, Winthrop Fuel, Winthrop House of Pizza, Winthrop Federal Credit Union, Brennan Insurance, Pete’s Roast Beef, Head to Toes, Thomas Insurance, Kennebec Savings Bank, Hannaford of Winthrop, Full Court Deli, Homestead Realty, Bloom Salon, Sully’s, Pepper’s and Becky’s Second Time.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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