MASSENA — There are certain things associated with the Christmas season — Santa Claus and his elves, stockings hung by the chimney with care, Christmas trees with dazzling lights, gifts large and small tucked under the tree... And John Roder’s annual food drive.
This will mark the 10th year Mr. Roder, a personal fitness trainer, has held a food drive to gather non-perishable food items for the Massena Neighborhood Center. It’s his sixth year since opening The Temple, his fitness studio at 112 Maple St.
Mr. Roder said he wants to make sure that community members in need don’t go hungry this holiday season. Items he collects for the Massena Neighborhood Center are part of the packages distributed to Neighborhood Center clients.
“My main personal reason is I’ve been there,” he said.
Mr. Roder said, if it wasn’t for a shelter where he was staying in the past, he would not have had a Christmas meal. Now, he wants to make sure everyone has something.
“I have went through the holidays many times with no food, and this is why I do this, for I never want anyone to feel what I felt,” he said. “I now have the opportunity. I’m in a position to help others. I pray no one goes hungry on my watch.”
Over the 10 years that he’s held the food drive, Mr. Roder estimates he has collected more than 10,000 pounds of food for the Neighborhood Center.
“My goal this year is one ton,” he said. “I got that two years ago.”
He’s looking strictly for non-perishable food items and no monetary contributions. The food items can be dropped off either inside The Temple or in a tote outside the studio. The items will be delivered to the Massena Neighborhood Center on Dec. 15 and can be brought to The Temple until then.
“Every little bit will help,” he said.
If someone can’t get to The Temple, Mr. Roder said he will make arrangements to pick up the food items. He can be contacted through the event’s Facebook page at http://wdt.me/y6Aq88or by calling him at 315-296-8811.