Sappi workers deliver thousands of boxes of food to pantries in the Skowhegan area

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SKOWHEGAN, Maine (WABI) – Unionized workers at the Sappi factory in Skowhegan have a tradition each year to donate thousands of boxes of food to area pantries before Christmas.

“The people at the plant recognize that a lot of people in their communities are not as well off as they are, so we decided to try and help,” said Patrick Carleton, union president. .

Since this decision 14 years ago, 11 pantries can count on this end-of-year gift.

“So we are organizing 150 full Christmas dinners for 150 needy families. We also have about 12 tonnes of food that we wrap and take to all the food cabinets in the central Maine area, ”Carleton said.

Between donations and fundraising, they have raised over $ 32,000 this year to make it happen.

“We knew Thanksgiving was tough on families and a lot of food was already going out. So we want to do something a little better and do it around Christmas, ”Carleton said.

For these factory workers, there is a lot of teamwork required to get the job done.

“I think that’s where solidarity comes in. You know, unions create solidarity, and we all work together at the factory, and we help each other every day. This is what we are proposing. We just want to help others, ”Carleton said.

“Everyone knows where to line up. Kind of form an assembly line and put it on the trailers and on the trucks and get it as quickly as possible to the pantry, ”said Chris Morris, union member.

After doing this for so many years, it’s the relationships with the people they help that are important to them.

“We have made friendships with pantry members over the years. They know my name, and you see them in town and they ask you, “Are you making a delivery this year?” You know, we try to increase it a little bit every year. Get a few more donations. I wish we could help more, ”said Michael Thériault, union vice-president.

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