Community hosting fundraiser for Matthew 25

Contributed photo

LEEDS — Patti Dushane has been running the Matthew 25 Food Pantry for about 14 years.

In that time, she’s developed programs such as the Power Pak program, which provides a week’s supply of groceries for area children, a coat drive and a backpack stuffing initiatives — but she’s never solicited money for her work.

But the community has supported her, she said, and will do so this weekend with a fundraiser at Anthony’s Banquet Hall.

The banquet hall is hosting a charity dance party Saturday featuring DJ Magic benefiting the pantry from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. with a $10 entry fee. The party includes a buffet at the end of event as well as guest bartenders, but guests must be 21 and older and will need an ID for entry.

Anthony Gjergji, owner of Anthony’s Banquet Hall in Leeds, said the proceeds given to the pantry are to help neighbors.

“We’re trying to give back in a certain way with everything that’s gone on,” he said.

Dushane said the pantry aims to take care of the county, not just the immediate area. The pantry purchases food, but everything it does is free of charge for clients, she said.

The pantry serves about 100 people a month, and Dushane delivers 40 people who are homebound, like senior citizens, as part of the “Angel Wings” program.

Matthew 25 originated when Dushane was a teacher and she ran the pantry out of the school, but after she retired, it became her full-time project in its own building.

Matthew 25 stocks more than food, Dushane said. The pantry also has personal hygiene products, clothes, “blessings in a bag” that include water bottles and other items, emergency boxes with 25 items for immediate need, birthday bags with supplies to make birthday cakes as well as a gift and more.

Dushane said she is preparing her backpack program in which she stuffs backpacks with school supplies for free.

People like Gjergji and co-organizer Mary Hiatt also help keep the pantry going, Dushane said.

“They’re always thinking of me, they’re always thinking of Matthew 25. And I’m really blessed that they do that,” Dushane said.

Donations from the community fund all of the programs as the pantry is a nonprofit, Dushane said. She said Athens Generator volunteers every Christmas and generously donates money.

“If it wasn’t for them, I couldn’t do what I do. I only work for them — that’s really what I do. Whatever they donate, I work for them,” Dushane said. “I said, ‘You’re paying for this. I’m just handing it out.’”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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