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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Massena fitness trainer collecting non-perishable food items for Massena Neighborhood Center

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MASSENA - In December, John Roder and friends pulled up to the Massena Neighborhood Center bearing tidings of great joy for the holiday season - about 500 pounds of food that he collected in two weeks.

Mr. Roder hopes to beat that number this year as part of his “Christmas In July” effort.

“Last year I collected 500 pounds of food. Hopefully it’s going to take off again. This year I’m going for 1,000 pounds,” he said. “With the word of mouth and the coming together of the Massena community, we can achieve that goal.” Mr. Roder has started encouraging donations of non-perishable food items at “the temple,” - his fitness center location in the Sears end of the St. Lawrence Centre mall - or his home at 233 Prospect Ave., Massena.

“I’ll have a bin in front of the temple where they can drop off food,” he said.

Right now he has one full tote that’s been filled after people heard of his effort through word of mouth and on his Facebook page, and he wants to get many, many more totes filled to the brim by the time his campaign ends.

“I’m asking the local community to come together once again. All donations are accepted, appreciated and encouraged,” he said.

He realizes it may take some time, but Mr. Roder says he’ll patiently wait for the bins to fill.

“Like last time, people say they will bring in some food. I always get more toward the end,” he said. “I want my whole back room filled.”

He has a special incentive for those who help him reach 1,000 pounds - two free circuit training classes that will be open to the public.

“That’s my reward,” he said.

Mr. Roder said he wants to make sure that all families in the community have food.

“Always remember, there are people - families, father, mother, sons and daughters, children - that do go hungry. But not on my watch when I, you, us, can do something about it,” he said.

Mr. Roder had done similar drives at the Delmar Tavern and, when he became a personal trainer, he decided to try it once again.

It worked, netting the 500 pounds of food in two weeks that he delivered to Neighborhood Center Executive Director Elaine Eggleston in December. He received so many food items that he had to store them in his spare bedroom.

It only took word of mouth with his clients - and some advertising on Facebook - to get that message out, a success he hopes to repeat this year.

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