DERRY — The weather wasn’t too frigid but the waters of Beaver Lake still offered a chill as dozens of people dashed in for a good cause.

The fourth annual Pantry Plunge on Saturday was all about keeping participants safe and within a safe distance of each other.

The event was held at Gallien’s Beach with proceeds going to support the First Baptist Church Food Pantry.

Participants either jumping in individually or as part of a team gathered at the shoreline at noon and then ran in and out of the water — some rather quickly, others spending a little more time to thrash around in the water.

In its inaugural year, the Plunge drew about 38 participants. The numbers have increased since then.

This year, the event was a bit different due to coronavirus concerns, with teams taking turns running into the water with staggered start times as opposed to one big group zooming into the water at once.

The first team to dash in represented Pinkerton Academy. Other teams were to be staged at various locations on the shoreline until it was their time to “plunge.”

Nancy Francis, a member of the food pantry’s board of directors, said this year’s Plunge was as important as ever, albeit a bit different.

“We are working hard to raise as much as we can so that none of our neighbors will go hungry this coming year,” she said. “Clearly, the demands on the food pantry this year are extremely great.”

The food pantry at First Baptist Church has served the community and surrounding towns for 28 years, helping more than 350 people and 150 families each month. Add in the pandemic and this year’s challenges at the food pantry are extremely great.

“This year, we are all out of our comfort zone,” Francis said. “This pandemic wasn’t even on our radar at last year’s Plunge and now COVID-19 has made this year’s event more important than ever.”

Francis added that with demands for support high this year, Plunge organizers were determined to rally the community to make the event successful.

And as much as the pantry appreciates the generous support of local food donations to help keep shelves stocked, monetary help is also appreciated.

Last year, the Plunge raised about $18,000 to support the food pantry. This year, Francis hoped for upward of $10,000 but all is greatly appreciated and welcome.

“And we are happy to host it (this year) with all the precautions,” Francis said.

Derry fire crews and emergency personnel were also on hand at the lake in case anyone needed assistance in the water.


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