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Fifth annual duck race to benefit Bridgeport Food Pantry is Sept. 7

A young spectator views all of the ducks who navigated Chittenango Creek in last year’s”Don’t Duck Hunger” duck race fundraiser for the Bridgeport Food Pantry. This year’s race will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7.

A young spectator views all of the ducks who navigated Chittenango Creek in last year’s”Don’t Duck Hunger” duck race fundraiser for the Bridgeport Food Pantry. This year’s race will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7. Photo by Jean Hadden.

— 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. 7 in the parking lot of St. Francis Parish in Bridgeport. The race typically raises approximately $25,000 for the pantry.

“I think everyone should really support their local food pantries, because they’re really in need,” said Patti Hedrick, coordinator of the Bridgeport Food Pantry. “I’ve been with this one for 15 years. We started bagging up 30 boxes of food. Now I have two books full of clients, and I bet you I have 300 pages full of names. They don’t all come every month, but they’re there. Food prices are going up, too, so it costs us more money, and the bills are astronomical.”

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 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. And the pantry uses that money to buy its food from the Food Bank of Central New York.

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