Sappi workers deliver thousands of boxes of food to Skowhegan area food pantries

Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 2:56 PM EST
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SKOWHEGAN, Maine (WABI) - Union workers at the Sappi mill in Skowhegan makes it a tradition every year to donate thousands of boxes of food to area food pantries ahead of Christmas.

“The folks in the mill recognize that a lot of folks in their communities that aren’t as well off as they are, so we made a decision that we’re going to try and help,” said Patrick Carleton, President of the Union.

Since that decision 14 years ago, 11 food pantries can rely on this late holiday gift.

“So we do 150 complete Christmas dinners to 150 needy families. We also have this just about 12 tons of food that we box up and take to all the food cupboards around the Central Maine Area,” said Carleton.

Between donations and fundraisers, they raised more than $32,000 this year to make it happen.

“We knew that Thanksgiving was tough on families, and a lot of food was already given out. So, we want to do something a little better, and do it around Christmas,” said Carleton.

For these mill workers, there’s a lot of teamwork required to get the job done.

“I think that’s where the solidarity comes in. You know, unions bring about solidarity, and we all work together in the mill, and we help each other out every day. That’s what we bring to the table. We just want to help others,” said Carleton.

“Everybody just knows where to step in line. Kind of form an assembly line and get it on the trailers and onto the trucks and get it to the food pantries as fast as possible,” said Chris Morris, Member of the Union.

After doing this for so many years, it’s the relationships with the people they’re helping that sticks with them.

“We’ve built friendships with the members of the food cupboards over the years. They know my name, and you see them around town and they ask, ‘are you guys making a delivery this year?’ You know, we try to up it a little bit every year. Get a little more donations. I wish we could help out more,” said Michael Theriault, Vice President of the Union.

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