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Verona community shows generosity to food pantry

Only a few weeks ago, a "humbled" fundraising goal and generous hearts of the Verona community brought good news to the town of Verona Food Pantry. The owners of the 31 Express Grocery/Deli, Steve and Barb Allen, started a "Pumpkin Patch Wall," after reading a story about Verona Town Council candidate Fred "Fritz" Scherz's visit to the local food bank.

Community members were welcomed to donate $1 for a pumpkin to bear their name on the deli's walls as a contribution to the pantry.

The goal was originally set at $500, a goal the Allens wanted to meet by the end of October. To their surprise, the goal was met Oct. 23. The Allens received more good news when another community member made a generous proposition that would double the donation.

Steve Joanis, the owner of the Planet Fitness in Oneida, came up with a plan that would greatly benefit the Verona Food Pantry.

"If you put up $250, I'll put up $250 so you can make a donation of $1,000 to the food pantry," Joanis told the Allens.

Today, Friday Oct. 30, Joanis and the Allens were pleased to present a check for $1,000 to two representatives to the Verona Food Pantry.

Donations were made from several people that live outside of Madison and Oneida counties. Barb Allen said a couple from Binghamton ate lunch at the deli last week and decided to donate as well.

"They said, 'lunch was great,'" Allen said. "They were in town and wanted to donate."

Allen said another couple wanted to donate but had missed the cutoff day for the fundraiser. However, their generosity didn't go to waste.

"They gave me $20 and said, 'do what you think is best with it,'" Allen said.

With that extra donation, the next fundraising idea began. The Allens are now collecting donations for the Christmas season. The money collected through Dec. 1 will also benefit the Verona Food Pantry.

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