Monte’s March brings record-shattering $614K for Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

  • WRSI The River radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, in white, pushes an empty shopping cart down Sugarloaf Street in South Deerfield on Tuesday to raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. He was joined by state and local legislators, as well as members of local nonprofits. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • WRSI The River radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, with his microphone in hand, pushes an empty shopping cart down Sugarloaf Street in South Deerfield on Tuesday to raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • WRSI The River radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, in white, pushes an empty shopping cart down Sugarloaf Street in South Deerfield on Tuesday to raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Due to health safety precautions being taken amid the pandemic, far fewer individuals participated compared to past years, yet more money was raised than ever before. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • WRSI The River radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte and his entourage walk north to Greenfield on Tuesday to raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Published: 11/27/2020 11:06:30 AM

When radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte appealed to the public for donations to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, recognizing the exacerbated problem of food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, donors overwhelmingly answered the call.

Belmonte’s 11th annual Monte’s March fundraiser, held Monday and Tuesday, raised a record-shattering $614,000 to benefit the food bank. According to a Food Bank of Western Massachusetts press release, the sum is nearly twice the $340,000 that was raised from the 2019 event, and is substantially greater than this year’s $365,000 goal.

“I’m overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of our community,” Belmonte stated after learning of the record-breaking figure. “The total is beyond my wildest expectations for this year’s march. But I think our neighbors know that this year, in particular, the need is immense. And they have met that need with immense generosity.”

“Everyone at the food bank is eternally grateful for the vote of confidence in our mission and the outpouring of community support of our neighbors in need at this critical moment,” added Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Executive Director Andrew Morehouse.

As usual, the 43-mile trek kicked off in Springfield on Monday and concluded at the Greenfield Common on Tuesday evening, where walkers were greeted by a small group of supporters, including musicians from Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield. Belmonte was joined in the journey by state and local legislators, as well as members of local nonprofits.

Still, due to health safety precautions being taken amid the pandemic, far fewer individuals participated compared to past years. To garner additional support, Belmonte and the food bank encouraged community members to participate virtually, raising money and marching in their own communities. According to the release, that approach paid off as individuals and schools throughout the Pioneer Valley participated in their own mini marches.

“We’ve been delighted to watch folks find creative ways to show their support for Monte’s March this year while maintaining social distance, from organizing mini marches to posting videos online to help spread the word,” noted Jillian Morgan, corporate relations officer with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. “It’s great to see the community foster some joy and fun during these challenging times.”

Another twist to this year’s Monte’s March was a social media campaign that included videos from local leaders and national anti-hunger advocates, the release states. Those who made videos include state Sen. Jo Comerford, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedegartner.

While Belmonte was overwhelmed by support from anti-hunger leaders and dignitaries, he said he never forgets individuals who give what they can to the cause through volunteer efforts and financial contributions.

“My favorite moment of the march,” Belmonte said, “was when 4-year-old Virginia handed me a few dollars, after cracking open her piggy bank. Maybe she will remember that and become the person in our future who solves our hunger crisis once and for all.”

The release states that revenue for the 11th annual Monte’s March XI is expected to rise even more, as the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts continues to accept donations by mail and online at montesmarch.com.




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