Area businesses and residents collected 2,000 pounds of food along with $1,725 in donations at the Waldo County YMCA's third monthly "Fill the Bus" event culminating at Hannaford Supermarket Jan. 23.

Y Chief Executive Officer Russell Werkman said this month was the first time the organization had partnered with area businesses.

Werkman said the Y's partners this month included Downeast Credit Union, Allen Insurance & Financial, GAC Chemical Co., Horowitz Chiropractic, Maine Integrative Health, MaineHealth, The Varney Agency, Bank of America, Mac's Hardware and athenahealth.

These businesses placed “Fill the WCY Bus” boxes at their workplaces and helped make the effort a success, he said. On Saturday, an additional 300 pounds of food and over $600 in donations were collected from individuals at the Hannaford parking lot.

Amanda Cunningham, marketing director at the YMCA, who was at the bus parked at Hannaford Saturday, said the food this month is earmarked for food pantries at local schools, including Regional School Units 3, 20 and 71.

"We can't get over how much we've received," she said. "It's just such a huge outpouring."

Werkman said there are two main reasons for the success this month. "One is that everyone wants to support our schools. When I picked up the food from businesses on Friday, people from each business shared how excited they were to help out.

"Many had not known that schools had food pantries," he said. "The other reason was (Membership Services Coordinator) Jan McIntyre. When she took on the organization of these drives, she brought energy and passion. When she calls you, it’s hard to say no.

"We are excited to be a hub for volunteerism, working with businesses and individuals to make a difference in Waldo County," Werkman said.

McIntire said the Y bus delivered the food to schools Jan. 25 and 26 for distribution through their on-site pantries.

She added that the Y would like to continue its partnership with area businesses and expand its efforts. Anyone interested in donating to this program can call 338-4598 and speak with McIntyre.