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Fourth annual duck race to raise money for Bridgeport Food Pantry

A volunteer gathers plastic ducks after the Bridgeport Duck Race last year. Last year’s Bridgeport Food Pantry duck race raised approximately $25,000. This year’s race will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, in Chittenango Creek.

A volunteer gathers plastic ducks after the Bridgeport Duck Race last year. Last year’s Bridgeport Food Pantry duck race raised approximately $25,000. This year’s race will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, in Chittenango Creek. Photo by Sarah Hall.

— It wouldn’t be out of line to say that the fate of the Bridgeport Food Pantry rests on the back of a plastic duck — or a whole creek full of them.

The pantry will hold its annual “Don’t Duck Hunger” duck race fundraiser at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 in the parking lot of St. Francis Parish in Bridgeport. The race typically raises somewhere in the range of $25,000 for the pantry.

“We were very successful last year. We raised $25,000. Every year, we’ve gone up $5,000, so you know what I’m going for this year,” said Patti Hedrick, coordinator of the food pantry. “I don’t know what we’re going to do if this isn’t successful. We’re required by federal mandate to give them so much protein, a fruit and a vegetable. It’s not like they can come in and we just give them some crackers and a roll of toilet paper. They have to get the requirements. We can’t cut down.”

The food pantry, which is affiliated with the Food Bank of Central New York, serves between 150 and 165 families a month in the towns of Cicero, Manlius and Sullivan. That number spikes to near 300 around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since July of 2011, the pantry has provided 72,230 meals, an increase of 24 percent since July 2009.

The pantry has an Election Day spaghetti dinner fundraiser as well as a corned beef and cabbage dinner on St. Patrick’s Day, but they needed a large fundraiser to fill their coffers. That’s when Hedrick came up with the idea to race plastic ducks in Chittenango Creek, located right behind the church. People “adopt” a duck, then set it loose in the creek. The owner of the duck that crosses the finish line first wins a prize, and all proceeds go to the pantry.

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