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Carnival raises money to feed hungry

August 01, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- The Martin's Food Market north of Hagerstown got a head start on its annual Bag Hunger fundraiser Saturday with its first benefit carnival, which was run by store employees and other volunteers in the parking lot from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The carnival was held to benefit area food banks and featured games such as a beanbag toss, a duck pond and a dunk tank, as well as food, face painting, a moon bounce and prizes.

Michelle Rodriguez, customer operations manager for Martin's on North Pointe Drive, off Pennsylvania Avenue, said she came up with the idea for the carnival after her regional manager called on employees to think of creative ways to boost this year's Bag Hunger campaign.

"They said, 'Think outside the box,' so I did, and this is what I got," Rodriguez said.

The carnival's proceeds won't be banked until the Martin's chain completes the Bag Hunger campaign Sept. 6 to 19. Last year's campaign generated $6,200 for Food Resources Inc. in Washington County, according to Tracy Pawelski at Martin's corporate headquarters in Carlisle, Pa.

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The Bag Hunger campaign is one of four promotions the chain participates in each year, Rodriguez said. Traditionally, the stores raise money by asking customers at checkout whether they want to donate a small amount to a certain cause, but participation has been lower than usual so far this year and managers were looking for an extra boost, she said.

Meeting fundraising goals is important because organizations such as Food Resources Inc. rely on campaigns such as Bag Hunger to keep their operations running, Rodriguez said.

Ruth Anne Callaham, executive director of Food Resources Inc., said last week food donations had dropped off so much the organization had to cut back the amount of food it provides to participants in some programs.

Turnout at Saturday's carnival was not as high as organizers had hoped, with about $400 worth of tickets sold by 2:30 p.m., Rodriguez said.

Vickie Lookabaugh of Hagerstown, who attended the carnival with her son and grandchildren, said she was happy to support a good cause, but thought the event might have been more successful if ticket prices had been lower.

The heat also might have kept some people away, Rodriguez said.

Sponsors of Saturday's carnival included the Long Meadow Volunteer Fire Co. and more than a dozen restaurants and businesses that donated gift cards and other prizes.

Staff writer Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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