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Spring Gala raises $10K for NAMOW

The 2nd Annual North Area Meals on Wheels Gala attracted more than 150 guests from around the county during the May 7 event held at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool.

The first ever Spring Gala held in 2009 raised $7,000 for the program located in North Syracuse.

This year's event blew that total out of the water with more than $10,000 in proceeds, according to Donna Barrett, director of operations for NAMOW.

Area businesses also volunteered services to contribute to the event. Mario's Bakery Inc., donated several tiered cakes, while Sears-Middleton-Jones Funeral Home purchased all the flower d (c)cor for Savannah Rose Florist to arrange for the banquet.

Special guest Tom Marullo, the chief financial officer for the national Meals on Wheels program, spoke to the attendants that included community members, North Syracuse school faculty and staff, several area government officials and the NAMOW Board of Directors.

Marullo has been part of the Meals on Wheels effort for more than 17 years when he first volunteered as a delivery person for his local chapter. Now part of the national program, Marullo said he is one of many who are "trying to end senior hunger by 2020."

Among his travels, Marullo said many people ask him what he does for a living, a question in which he finds every acquaintance having an experience with Meals on Wheels.

"They always tell me their connection with Meals on Wheels," Marullo said. "Whatever the connection, there's always a connection."

Such connections were a common theme among the gala's guests since many are current volunteers or have a family member or friend who benefits from the program.

Planning to be a volunteer when she retires, North Syracuse Mayor Diane Browning, said the gala is a "fantastic event."

"When I retire as mayor I will become a full time volunteer," Browning said. "Donna [Barrett] does a tremendous job and this is an event where we can give back as a community."

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