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Franklin County Tech students bake 500 loaves of bread for Sandy victims

The massive bread order was led by one Greenfield man, Edward Ellmore, wanting to make a difference in the lives of those who have lost their homes to the October “super storm” that battered the East Coast. In New Jersey, Sandy killed at least six people, washed away chunks of the Seaside Heights’ historic boardwalk and put 80 percent of Atlantic City under water, according to national news reports.

The local relief effort took shape as Ellmore, owner of Ellmore Enterprises — the bread distributor for the People’s Bakery of Warwick — listened to a radio news broadcast on a delivery run. On the radio, he heard a story of a woman and her two children in New Jersey turned away from an emergency shelter. Later, the storm surge swept in and the woman lost her grip on her two sons.

“I was enraged,” Ellmore said. “I couldn’t believe there were people out there like that. So I thought, well what am I doing?”

Ellmore decided to bake 500 loaves of bread starting at 10 a.m. Friday and finishing at midnight. He planned to deliver the bread on Sunday to New Jersey residents. Ellmore named the bread run the Bonnie Sue Ellmore Memorial Bread run after his mother.

“If she was still alive, the bread would already be done,” Ellmore said.

The project quickly became a community effort.

The Tech School offered use of the kitchen from its Apprentice Restaurant, the Turners Falls eatery staffed by students, and the students offered their help as well. In no time the Apprentice Restaurant was transformed into a bread machine with students separated into stations. While some cracked eggs, others mixed the flour with the yeast and kneaded the dough.

“It was instantaneous,” said John Kerry, the school communications director. “All the teachers got on board immediately. It’s a no-brainer especially when it happens during the day and students are here to help. It incorporates student involvement.”

Ellmore’s son, Conner, is a 10th grader in the school’s culinary department.

“It’s amazing,” said Conner Ellmore, who planned to bake until midnight. “We’re making an impact on those families so the time is worth it.”

Local businesses also contributed by donating ingredients.

Ellmore’s brother-in-law, James Wicline, and nephews, Brian and Neo Wicline, own the People’s Bakery, an all-natural foods bakery. The bakery is originally from Warwick, but now operates from the food processing center of the Franklin County Community Development Corp. in Greenfield.

On Friday, the elder Wicline, a Tech School alumnus, helped guide the students to make the all-natural, whole wheat bread. The People’s Bakery also provided bread pans.

Ellmore also contacted the stores to which he delivers People’s Bakery bread. “My customers all jumped in without batting an eyelash,” Ellmore said.

Four Star Farm of Northfield donated 500 pounds of flour. Stonebrook Farm of Montague donated 47 dozen eggs. Enterprise Rental of Greenfield offered a van to deliver the bread. Debra’s Natural Gourmet of West Concord provided $100 for gas money. The Putney Food Co-op and Brattleboro Food Co-op of Vermont each donated another $200 for gas. Another company, Hillcrest Food, even donated 31 cases of honey, which will be used in place of sugar.

In addition, Copy Cat of Greenfield provided 500 fliers to stick in the bread bags. The fliers tell New Jersey residents where the bread comes from and lists the names of the local businesses participating.

Through a co-worker at Ellmore Enterprises, Ellmore learned that the owner of the Trail Head in Orange, Paul Anderson, had organized a clothing and canned food drive for hurricane victims. He invited Ellmore to join him on his trip.

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