Real Estate Brokers Gather Seven Tons of Food for Local Pantries

Donations from the East Hampton office of Saunders Associates for the East Hampton Food Pantry filled the back of a cargo van. A food drive at the real estate firm's various offices brought in more than 14,000 donated items. Ricci Paradiso

A spirited competition among the East Hampton, Southampton, and Bridgehampton offices of the real estate firm Saunders and Associates to see which could gather the most food for food pantries brought in more than 14,000 donated items of food by the Nov. 15 deadline. Anne White and Molly Sheppard — the former a copywriter with the firm, the latter a graphic designer — helped organize and coordinate the drive, now in its third year.

The East Hampton office, which won the competition by a “fairly good margin,” Ms. White said, donated all it gathered to the East Hampton Food Pantry. That office gathered so much food that it entirely filled the back of a cargo van. 

The Bridgehampton branch donated its offerings to that hamlet’s pantry, while the Southampton office split its goods between the Southampton and Westhampton pantries. 

“It was a group effort,” Ms. White said. “We all pitched in.”

Brokers, agents, and office staff members were all involved. They were given a list of most-needed items to work from. Donors were steered away from glass containers and asked to focus on foods in cans or plastic jars. The list of sought-after edibles included canned vegetables and fruits, soups, apple sauce, tuna fish, peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti sauce, and coffee. 

The effort is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to supporting the communities they are in, according to its organizers. 

It was a “friendly competition,” said Ms. White, who works out of the Bridgehampton office. It was lively, with a sharp elbow or two — all in good fun. Agents in each office would team up, taking in their donations en masse, then challenge others in the same office to match them. As the contest deadline was closing in, someone from the East Hampton office called Bridgehampton, trying to ascertain how many cans they had collected. “East Hampton was very motivated, for sure,” Ms. White said. She warned that the East Hampton office should not rest on its laurels. “We’ll be back,” she promised, laughing, about her office’s prospects in next year’s food drive. 

Ms. White and Ms. Sheppard also coordinated the delivery of the food to the pantries. 

The heavy lifting may be over, but Saunders and Associates isn’t finished with its effort, Ms. White said: Colleen and Andrew Saunders are following up with a donation to the pantries, matching the value of the food collected with cash.