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Bartolotta promotion raises money for food bank in Connecticut

TORRINGTON, CT -- A food bank in Connecticut got an early Christmas gift, courtesy of a promotion engineered by Bartolotta Inc., a produce brokerage company based here.

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Bartolotta Inc. raised over $17,000 for the Friendly Hands Food Bank during its first charity fundraiser and promotion held in the fall. Shown at the food bank with the ceremonial check were Maureen Hubert, executive director of the food bank, with Kevin Bartolotta (right), his wife, Angela, and their daughter, Sierra. (Photo by Gordon M. Hochberg)

During the first Bartolotta Charity Fundraiser & Promotion, which ran from Oct. 31 to Nov. 21, five cents from every package purchased from Bartolotta Inc. was donated to the Friendly Hands Food Bank, based here; $50 per truckload procured from Bartolotta was donated as well.

As an incentive to help the company's customers increase their purchases from the produce broker, and as incentive for new customers, all truckload purchases resulted in an entry being given to the respective buyer in a drawing for three prizes. The third-place prize was a $250 American Express gift card, the second-place prize was a $500 American Express gift card, and the grand prize was an all-expense-paid three-day weekend in Boston at the Hilton Boston Back Bay hotel, dinner for two, two premium seats to a Boston Bruins hockey game and round-trip transportation for two from the winner's home city.

The very rewarding result: Kevin Bartolotta, president and owner of the brokerage firm, presented a ceremonial check for $17,580 to the food bank at a ceremony held Dec. 8 at the food bank's office.

In the drawing held at the food bank that day, Mr. Bartolotta's daughter, Sierra, picked the third-place winning raffle ticket out of a hat: Varick Warren of K&M Packing in New Hampton, NY. Debbie Negron of The Produce News picked the second-place winner: James Hunt of D.M. Rothman Co. Inc. in the Bronx, NY. Maureen (Mo) Hubert, executive director of the Friendly Hands Food Bank, picked the grand-prize winner: Jason Lathos of Church Bros. LLC in Salinas, CA.

(In the spirit of the holiday season, Mr. Warren donated his prize back to the food bank, and Mr. Hunt donated his prize to a homeless mother and daughter “so that they could have a nice Christmas,” Mr. Bartolotta told The Produce News a few days after the drawing.)

About 122,000 boxes of produce were sold during the three-week promotional period, according to Mr. Bartolotta, who was on the food bank's board of directors around 2004-05. With the success of this first promotion, he plans to make it an annual event.

Ms. Hubert had run a homeless shelter for about four years before starting the Friendly Hands Food Bank from her own home in February 1991. The food bank was able to move into its current location in 2000, but has outgrown the small house, so Ms. Hubert's goal is to move into a larger facility.

"With the economy the way it is, we need this food bank," she told The Produce News, adding that 70,000 children "go to bed hungry every night" in the state of Connecticut. "I can't help everyone in the country, but I can help this little corner of my world."

Asked how she felt when she heard how much money her friend Mr. Bartolotta and his company's promotion had raised for the food bank, Ms. Hubert replied, "I expected a lot, but he knocked my socks off."