St. Susan Center’s annual Holiday Haul achieved a remarkable success in 2023, raising an impressive $23,369.69, according to Executive Director Cherie Rowland.
The financial impact, Rowland emphasized, is vital with funds contributing to essential expenses such as lighting, procuring supplies that may not be readily available, and supporting the salaries of the dedicated staff. The center operates with six employed individuals and benefits from the assistance of 75 volunteers who collectively contribute over 550 hours of volunteer service.
The Holiday Haul also witnessed the collection of an extraordinary 19,365 pounds of food, marking a new record-breaking achievement. At the end of 2023, Rowland anticipates that the center will have provided over 50,000 meals.
Rowland expressed her gratitude for the collaborative efforts of various schools, including Maple Grove, Southwestern, Panama, Jefferson, and Persell in Jamestown. Noteworthy support also came from the Falconer junior varsity girls basketball team and the Diamond Dogs team from Frewsburg, who assisted in sorting the collected items.
The emotional impact of the community’s involvement did not escape Rowland, who remarked on the overwhelming sense of unity and support present in Jamestown. Despite the challenges faced globally, the community’s generosity shone through, with individuals contributing despite potential financial strains.
Even those living paycheck to paycheck demonstrated their commitment by donating three or four cans of food. Rowland acknowledged the beauty of this selfless act, highlighting the resilience of the community in the face of adversity.
St. Susan Center received support from various local companies, including Synergy, Cummins, Jamestown Awning, Jamestown Cycle Shop, and Jamestown Mattress. Mayor-Elect Kim Ecklund actively participated by donating canned goods and offering encouragement during multiple visits. The contributions of Media One Radio Group and the Post-Journal in spreading awareness about the Holiday Haul were also acknowledged.
Additionally, the Falconer boys basketball team played a crucial role in the post-collection phase, helping with the dating and inspection of all canned goods.
In the spirit of community collaboration, St. Susan Center shared approximately 1,000 pounds of collected items with The Salvation Army and another 1,000 pounds with various organizations.
Reflecting on the immense success of the Holiday Haul, Rowland expressed her gratitude for the outpouring of community spirit. The overwhelming response, with lines of cars extending into the parking lot, necessitated a relocation to the entrance to accommodate the generous contributors. Rowland, in her third year overseeing the Holiday Haul, admitted to being consistently blown away by the community’s unwavering support, and this year’s success resonated even more profoundly.