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Patchogue church rocks, fills food pantry

The Chris P. Cauley Collective performed at Music

The Chris P. Cauley Collective performed at Music Sets the Table, a fundraiser for the pantry at the Congregational Church of Patchogue. (Feb. 12, 2012) Credit: Alexi Knock

Five years ago, Lisa Tenzyk was in need and turned to the food pantry at The Congregational Church of Patchogue when she needed to provide a hot dinner for her family. Today, she was finally able to give back at the church’s first Music Sets the Table, an event that raised more than $3,000 for the community pantry.

“Patchogue has always been a community that comes together to give back,” said Tenzyk, 48, of Medford, who helped run the raffle auction.

The fundraiser also featured six local bands including Joe Rock and The All-Stars, as well as a raffle for gift baskets donated by Patchogue businesses. The bands played in the historical sanctuary under stained glass windows and a 40-foot ceiling.

The planning for the church’s first large fundraising event began in the fall when Joseph Felicetta, a retired chef, volunteered as to cook for an Oktoberfest dinner and noticed the high need for the food pantry.

“I was very surprised to see the type of people coming in to get food,” said Felicetta, who performed with his band Joseph and Friends for the event. “These were your average, middle-class working people in three-piece suits who couldn’t afford to eat.”

Felicetta almost immediately began reaching out to friends on Facebook to volunteer for the event. He teamed up with the  Rev. Dwight Wolter to figure out ways to bring in as many people as possible. The fundraiser had about 500 people watching the bands and donating money throughout the afternoon.

“What I love about this is the majority of people here don’t go to the church. They just responded to a need in the community,” said Wolter. “People have just poured forth with support.”

During the holidays, people tend to donate generously to the food pantry. However, the amount of food drastically decreases by February, said Wolter.

“As the recession got worse, people had less and less to put into the pantry. Yet since we’re in a recession, there’s much more need for it,”  the Rev. Wolter said. “We’re using this fun event to find a way around that.”

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