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New Windsor’s annual Mayor on the Square event looking for donations of many kinds this year

Neal Roop’s goal when he started his Mayor on the Square Food Drive five years ago was to gain 2,000 pounds.

Not personally, of course, but New Windsor’s mayor said he wanted the community to gather as many non-perishable goods as it could to help his town’s food bank. “And it was, ‘I won’t be done until I get a ton,’ ” Roop said.

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The mayor surpassed 2,000 pounds of food around noon on the day of that inaugural fund drive, he said. These days, Roop said he doesn’t weigh the goods or tally up the pounds. He’s more about keeping the event going and helping St. Paul United Methodist Church with the New Windsor Food Bank.

This year’s Mayor on the Square event is planned for Saturday, Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 201 Main Street in New Windsor. Roop said he’ll be accepting monetary donations as well, and each dollar is equal to one pound of food.

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“I’m not really going after tonnage or pounds anymore. Just donations of food and monetary [donations] so the church can use money at any time, that’s always helpful to them,” Roop said. “They can buy whatever they need when they run out of something.”

The New Windsor Food Bank is open on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and it serves people from the New Windsor and Union Bridge communities.

Roop said his Mayor on the Square event coincides with the New Windsor Lions Club sub sale, with people scheduled to pick up sandwiches after 12 p.m. Church members and Lions Club members will be on hand for the events, Roop said, and he’s open to any younger community members who want to pitch in and earn service hours.

The hope is that New Windsor turns out as it has in previous years to give back despite the coronavirus pandemic putting a damper on everyone’s calendar of events.

“The fire department didn’t have the carnival, but every fundraiser they’ve had has been extremely well supported,” Roop said. “The Lions Club, we just had a fall raffle, a harvest raffle ... we did better without the carnival because people are giving back to the community.”

Roop said he’ll also be collecting coats to benefit The Shepherd’s Staff’s Call for Coats drive. The Shepherd’s Staff opened a satellite location earlier this year at St. Paul UMC, which puts together a Blessings Closet for people to donate non-food related items such as toilet paper and hygienic supplies.

“It’s all going to be beneficial to the New Windsor community and also the Union Bridge community,” Roop said. “We get people from [those] areas down for the food bank and the Blessings Closet.”

The pandemic has affected Roop’s community, like many others, by forcing shutdowns and cancellations over the last eight months. But New Windsor’s mayor said he’s proud of how people have responded and come together.

“I’ve seen with the Lions Club and the fire company, the community has just been unbelievable with their support,” Roop said. “I think it’s probably every community. New Windsor, I don’t think, is any different than any other community during these times.”

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