OLEAN, NY -- In under two months the Olean Food Pantry met the $10,000 fundraising challenge set by the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation and so will receive an additional $10,000 for their capital fundraising campaign.

On Dec. 1, CRCF issued a Food for the Future Challenge Grant to the Olean Food Pantry, promising to match up to $10,000 in donations to the food pantry’s Building Project Fund. The grant is the largest ever unrestricted grant the CRCF board of directors has ever approved.

“We felt providing the organization with a challenge grant would provide a greater opportunity for them to attract new donations to this project,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “I think we saw that was effective, and we are thrilled to now be able to make good on our $10,000 challenge for the fundraising campaign.”

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“Our board has been enthusiastic about this grant from the start,” Ms. Buchheit added. “We continue to be impressed with the work and vision of the board and volunteers who run the Olean Food Pantry.”

As the fundraising campaign progressed, Olean Food Pantry board members and volunteers watched that vision become tangible progress.

Scott Brook, an Olean Food Pantry board member, said that work on the building addition is about half complete now.

“The progress that has been made at the food pantry is unbelievable,” said Ms. Buchheit. “To see that the addition will make it possible to help so many more people throughout the area makes the grant all worth it.”

Scott Brook stressed that this progress would not have been possible without the funds raised and matched through the challenge grant and the generosity of the Alfred State construction program and local contractors.

While so much progress has been made, the work is still not finished for the food pantry board and volunteers.

“We still need to raise between $20,000 and $30,000 to reach our final fundraising goal,” Brook said.

Upon achieving this final goal, people will see big change at the food pantry facility, Brook added.

“Upgrades to the (Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning) will be a big thing,” he said. “It has not been exactly optimal in the past, but the upgrades are essential for maintaining temperature, which is so important for food safety.”

Other upgrades and additions will include improved handicap accessibility at a new entrance and a new emphasis on education.

“We want to improve our ability to educate those we serve, including children’s education with a new children’s library,” he said. “We want everyone to be acclimated and comfortable with the process as we work with them.”

Brook also said that a new generator purchase will equip the food pantry to accommodate almost 30 people in case of a county emergency.

Brook expressed the organization’s shared gratitude for the role the foundation’s grant has played in the progress so far at the food pantry.

“(The grant) is one of the largest donations we received, and we wouldn’t be as far along (in the campaign) without it,” Brook said. “We know and so deeply appreciate that it’s the largest unrestricted CRCF grant yet.”

“We appreciate CRCF’s support of our mission and the credibility that support has given us,” he said. “We are truly humbled.”

Donations can be made to the Olean Food Pantry Building Project Fund at CRCF, 301 N. Union St., Suite 203 or online at cattfoundation.org.

Established in 1994, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email foundation@cattfoundation.org, or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).