CAMANCHE — For 10 years Brenda Waldorf and her team of volunteers have worked to feed the community of Camanche during the holidays, and this year they are hoping for the best turnout yet.
The 10th annual Pack the Pantry poker run will unfold at 1 p.m. Nov. 9 at five different locations throughout Camanche. Jerseys, Poor House Tap, Imperial Lanes, Hydes Inn and Luigi’s will all be stops on the bicycle poker run.
Participants will be required to sign up at one of the five locations prior to the poker run, with a $5 donation and two canned goods. Once they have signed up, the bicycle rally will travel through the streets of Camanche collecting and distributing canned goods at each tavern.
“You sign up at the bar of your choice for 2 canned goods and $5. It doesn’t matter where you sign up because all the money and food is going to the same place,” Waldorf said. “We also set up boxes at the bars because a lot of the regular customers will bring in food and not even go on the poker run.”
During the poker run, a captain will be selected from each bar and will be responsible to play the poker hand at the end of the day. A playing card will be distributed at each establishment and the captain with the highest poker hand wins the collection of money from all five locations.
The winner decides what to do with the money, but according to Waldorf, since the beginning, every dollar has been donated back to the cause.
“It’s a lot of fun and we all enjoy it, but people realize it’s for a good cause. I think that’s why the money always gets donated back,” Waldorf said.
Once the poker run commences and all the food donations are distributed to each establishment, a collection will take place that night or the next day. The goods will then be transferred to the local food pantry at First Baptist Church in Camanche.
The monetary donations will be collected and deposited in a designated account at the Clinton National Bank, Camanche Branch. The money collected will be used to build Christmas baskets for local residents.
“We usually raise anywhere from $500 to $1,600, depending on how many people we get to come out for it,” Waldorf said. “We used to give it all to the food pantry, but now what we do is give the food to the pantry, then we give all the money to a group who donates it into the Christmas baskets for Camanche.”
Because of its benefit to the community, Mayor Ken Fahlbeck has been a strong supporter of the annual Pack the Pantry event, which is why this year he has been working diligently to raise the participation numbers.
“Last year the community responded really well to it. All the food stays in Camanche, that’s why I think it was such a good turnout,” Fahlbeck said. “(But) I think it could get much bigger.”
Weather always plays a factor in participation in the poker run, but Waldorf said if it’s raining, the group trades in the bicycles for vehicles and carpools to each location.
Rain or shine the Pack the Pantry event will continue as planned, and Waldorf expects anywhere from 40 to 60 people or more to come out and show their support.
“You get out and see people you know, and your doing it all for a good cause,” Waldorf said. “Plus, it’s a lot of fun and you just feel great when you can deposit that money and bring that food to the pantry.”