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Weight-loss group raises money, food to feed the hungry

December 01, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Shedding pounds took on a different perspective for members of a local weight loss group. To inspire the Take off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) group that meets at First Christian Church in Hagerstown, Pat Saunders presented group members with a dual challenge - continue to lose weight and collect food for a holiday food drive.

She added more motivation by turning the challenge into a contest. TOPS members got friends and family to sponsor them during the month of October.

For each pound lost, sponsors agreed to donate that amount in dollars or more to the food drive. Saunders served as chairman for the effort that the group has done for about five years, a project they call Pounds for the Hungry.

The group decided to donate food to First Christian's food drive, with the collected items being split between St. Mark's Food Bank and The Salvation Army.

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Saunders said that during the month, TOPS members participating in the food drive challenge lost 76 pounds, collected more than 900 pounds of food, $260 in turkey certificates from Snooks Poultry and Seafood and $10 in cash.

Degree of Pocahontas in Williamsport donated $200.

"I stress that we don't know what real hunger is. It's a way to give back to the community," Saunders said.

She added that the group tried to go beyond the traditional canned food drive and brought in foods that generally aren't distributed through the food bank, such as coffee, tea, cake mixes and complete dinner kits.

Every month, the group has a different contest, some of which are community-based.

The November contest was to collect gloves and mittens for Head Start, and more than 500 pieces were donated.

This TOPS group has 67 members, 50 to 60 who weigh in weekly, Saunders said. They meet on Monday mornings, with weigh-in from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., exercise time at 8:30 a.m. and a meeting and program from 9:30 to 10 a.m.

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