AUGUSTA – MaineGeneral Health delivered a truck-full of 6,000 pounds of donated food and funds Tuesday, Nov. 10, to Augusta and Waterville food banks to help feed the hungry this season. The donations came after a week of collections across MaineGeneral practices and departments during Kindness Week, according to a news release from MaineGeneral Health.

The idea for the drive came from the health system’s Nurse Engagement Committee, which was formed in 2015 to create a strong, positive work environment and nursing culture at MaineGeneral.

“Traditionally, MaineGeneral’s Nurse Engagement Committee sponsors Kindness Week activities to pay it forward to their coworkers. It has been a way for staff to reach out to other areas of the health care system to let their colleagues know how much they are appreciated,” said Jennifer Riggs, chief nursing officer of MaineGeneral Health, according to the release. “This year the committee felt it was a time to recognize our community to thank them for all they’ve done for us, and the response from our 4,500-strong organization has been overwhelming.”

Brittany Hanson, RN, co-chairwoman of the Nurse Engagement Committee, said the collection event exceeded the committee’s expectations. “Our hope was to fill one truck and we easily did that,” Hanson said. “We wanted to give back to our community. We wanted to say thank you for supporting us during such a difficult time and we also wanted to pay it forward. This is a tough time for so many right now, and we wanted to make a difference in the lives of families in our community.”

In addition to the boxes of food, medical staff at the health system designated their annual $10,000 donation to local food banks, donating $2,500 each to the Augusta and Waterville food banks and another $5,000 split between food banks across the region.

Bob Moore, executive director of the Augusta Food Bank, said that the delivery of food was the largest single donation the food bank has received this year. Additionally, the check of $2,500, when leveraged with donated food, translates to 7,500 meals for the hungry.

Moore said, “We were absolutely stunned when a box truck with five pallets of food pulled up to our doors. Like the Augusta Food Bank, MaineGeneral employees and volunteers have been on the front line without pause during the pandemic. To think that they thought about others in need during their challenges resulting from the coronavirus is truly remarkable. We are so grateful – thank you MaineGeneral employees.”

“Staff at MaineGeneral have really answered the call in so many ways this year,” said Chuck Hays, president & CEO of MaineGeneral Health, according to the release. “They provide dedicated service and care to patients and families every day. Many of our staff volunteer outside of the health system and give in other ways to help causes and touch the lives of people in our community. I’m so proud of the commitment they show inside and outside the workplace.”

Hays noted that MaineGeneral has been working with the Central Maine Gleaning Group to donate unused food from the Thayer Center for Health. The medical center donates about 8,400 pounds of food per year, which is used by area food pantries and other organizations that provide nutritious food for those in need.

MaineGeneral also holds an annual employee campaign of charitable giving.

“This fall, MaineGeneral employees gave $147,000 in donations to support the important work of the United Way of Mid-Maine and the United Way of Kennebec Valley,” Hays said, according to the release. “This is an unprecedented amount of giving by our staff at a time when it’s needed most.”

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