Generous Donations to Feed Fannin Continue to Help During Pandemic, Shut-Down, Economic Crisis

Mercier Orchards has donated all the money to Feed Fannin from the sale of masks to its customers through June; At right, Feed Fannin Chair Ron Ciochon accepts a check for $500 in April form Tim Richter, owner of Toccoa Riverside Restaurant, in a "drive-by donation" arranged during the pandemic. The restaurant had just begun to sell take-out meals to customers during limited hours after having been closed for about a month.

Although Feed Fannin had to cancel this year’s annual fundraiser, Bowls of Hope, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many generous donors have stepped in to offset the economic impact, allowing our nonprofit organization to continue its mission of feeding the hungry and supporting the Fannin County Family Connection Food Pantry.  

“We have heard from many donors this spring and summer who have given us checks or made online donations via our website (www.feedfannin.com),” said Feed Fannin Treasurer Carlos Martel at the organization’s monthly meeting. “The donations have ranged from $20 up to $5,000.”

He also noted that the majority of Bowls of Hope ticket allowed Feed Fannin to keep their money as donations when the event was cancelled, which helped reduce the shortfall in revenue. Also, many merchants, restaurants and individuals who had donated items and gift certificates for the event’s silent auction permitted the organization to keep these items for use in an online or “virtual” auction being planned for August 21-30 (see more details elsewhere on this website) .

In addition to an article and editorial about the cancellation of the Bowls of Hope in The News Observer that called for donations, Martel cited opportunities to give that were posted on Feed Fannin’s Facebook page in March and April. Donations through the Facebook page have so far totaled about $1,500. 

“I’m an optimist by nature, but we were concerned that as demand for food rose due to the economic downturn and loss of jobs, we might simultaneously face a severe decline in donations due to the uncertainties of the pandemic and its impact on the community,” Martel said. However, our loyal supporters — along with many new ones — have come through for us, and the response from the community has been heartwarming.” 

“For a while after the cancellation of Bowls of Hope in March, we had calls asking ‘how can we help’ and soon we began receiving unexpected checks in the mail and two to three donations on our website via PayPal each day,” he continued.

One person even signed over his economic stimulus check to Feed Fannin, writing on the memo line simply “Help people.”  Donations have slowed since May, but the organization is fortunate to be able to continue to meet the growing demand for food.

Local businesses have also been very supportive of Feed Fannin. Mercier Orchards has, to date, donated a very generous amount representing proceeds through June from the sale of masks required to enter the popular tourist destination.

Tri-State EMC’s Operation RoundUP Program, which invites its customers to round up their monthly payments to the nearest dollar, approved a grant to Feed Fannin of $4,500. 

Cabin Concierge, a new food and grocery delivery service in Blue Ridge, announced in April that it would donate a percentage of its fees from each delivery to Feed Fannin.

Tim Richter, owner of Toccoa Riverside Restaurant and a longtime supporter of Bowls of Hope, donated $500 to purchase food for the Food Pantry.

Brandon Lofton, also a loyal Bowls of Hope supporter and owner of another prominent Blue Ridge restaurant, The Black Sheep, donated a similar amount. Some local churches have also given Feed Fannin additional gifts from their Sunday collections. And retailers like Wrapsody in Blue and Wrapsody Outdoor Living have also made donations, even while their businesses were closed during the pandemic.

In addition, several restaurants that were forced to shut down donated perishable and nonperishable items from their freezers and pantries directly to the Pantry.  One food supplier donated 1,000 lbs. of flour!

 “Feed Fannin is very grateful for these generous donations,” said the organization’s Chair, Ron Ciochon. “We are so appreciative of the many businesses and individual supporters in our community who have come forward, eager to help during these difficult times. Their donations are helping us keep pace with the needs of the families, children and an increasing number of seniors seeking food assistance from the Food Pantry at Fannin County Family Connection.” 

Ciochon pointed out that all of the aforementioned donations are also helping to support and enhance a new partnership of Feed Fannin and Family Connection with the “Meals on Wheels” program at the Fannin County Senior Life Services Center.

Diane Payne, Newsletter Editor