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St. Susan Kicks Off Holiday Haul With Help Of Panama Students

Pictured, in front from left, are Panama School National Honor Society members Kolten Rhodes, Bryce Hinsdale, Brandon Keefe and Carter Brink. In back are Dennis Webster of Media One Radio; Jim Pullan of Jamestown Mattress; Jamestown Mayor-Elect Kim Ecklund; Randy Marsh of Jamestown Cycle Shop; Cherie Rowland, St. Susan Center executive director; Dan Keefe, co-chair of Community Holiday Haul; and Mark Saxton of Jamestown Awning. Submitted photo

St. Susan Center’s annual Holiday Haul has officially kicked off this year’s holiday season.

Cherie Rowland, St. Susan Center executive director, referred to the Holiday Haul as “the brainchild” of Keith Martin, who began the tradition 11 years ago by partnering with Dan Keefe. Since then, the event has been passed on to Chad VanEvery, who is also partnering with Keefe, and the two are organizing the event this year.

“We are very excited to kick off the annual Holiday Haul to Benefit St. Susan Center,” Rowland said. “Thank you to our community and sponsors for their unyielding passion and heart for St. Susan Center and the people we serve. This 11-year-and-counting event of community and love warms my heart.”

Rowland added that the annual Holiday Haul gives many people and businesses in the community the opportunity to begin the holiday season with the joy of giving.

This year, a few members of Panama Central School’s National Honor Society, including Kolten Rhodes, Bryce Hinsdale, Brandon Keefe and Carter Brink, helped kick off the event Monday. They are co-chairing the event as part of the leadership requirements for the National Honor Society.

In the past, athletic teams have taken up the role, and this year it was given to Panama’s NHS.

“For this year’s community driven event, Panama School’s National Honor Society sent out a challenge to other area school’s National Honor Society chapters to see which chapter can collect the most tonnage of food,” Rowland said.

The challenge also included which National Honor Society can raise the most cash donations.

Rowland said getting the local schools involved in ways like the challenge encourages the younger generation and helps them to better understand the needs of those less fortunate. The competition between schools also helps with this, and Rowland said she hopes more schools will get involved as the tradition continues.

“The competitive spirit of doing something great for others may give folks the opportunity to understand food insecurities, addiction, mental health issues and homelessness,” she said.

Community members can also help by donating money, gift cards and non-perishable goods. The Holiday Haul collection days take place Dec. 14, 15, and 16 at the Jamestown Cycle Shop, 10 Harrison St., Jamestown. St. Susan Center will be there on Dec. 14 and 15 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Dec. 16 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rowland said the Holiday Haul is very important for the center.

“It will provide food supplies and monetary donations for meals at the soup kitchen up through the first quarter of 2024,” she said.

For those interested in helping with the Holiday Haul, St. Susan Center can be reached at 716-664-2253, where someone will help get in touch with those in charge.

Besides the Holiday Haul, Rowland said St. Susan also offers people free meals six days a week.

“St. Susan Center works to provide that immediate need for food without judgment or discrimination,” she said. “Each day our guests are served a nutritional meal that includes a hot entree, fruit, vegetables and, most days, a healthy snack to go.”

St. Susan Center is open Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., and Saturday from noon-1:45 p.m.

“For some guests, we provide the only smile or food they will receive that day and for others the need for fellowship and community,” Rowland said. “St. Susan Center is more than just food. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed Keith Martin and Dan Keefe for the last two years and this year Dan Keefe and Chad VanEvery shaking hands and hugging old friends. New friends will stop by, and these new friends are next year’s old friends.”

All proceeds from the Holiday Haul will go toward St. Susan Center and its mission. For more information or questions, email Haul4Holidays.StSusanCenter@gmail.com.

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