By MORGAN FRISCH

Recorder News Staff

Halloween is still a few weeks away but Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery Counties is kicking off their holiday food drive today with a Trunk or Treat event in Amsterdam.

The event, being hosted in partnership with the Mental Health Association of Fulton and Montgomery Counties, will run from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Catholic Charities, 1 Kimball St.

Cars will fill the parking lot of Catholic Charities with their trunks open and people passing out candy.

“It’s a kickoff for the pantry drive, but it’s also a nice, safe, and fun event for children and their families,” Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery Counties Director John Nasso said.

Blanca Tristani, food pantry coordinator for Catholic Charities, said she’s excited about the event.

“There’s a lot of different service providers that come in,” she said.

Tristani explained that people from different agencies will park their car in the Catholic Charities parking lot to pass out candy and information regarding their agency.

Participating agencies include St. Mary’s Healthcare, the Mental Health Association of Fulton and Montgomery Counties and the Fulmont Community Action Agency.

“Children will come in with the parent and they go car by car,” Tristani said.

She said the children will be collecting candy from the trunks, while parents will be provided information about what services each agency provides.

She used Headstart as an example. If someone from their program was at a car, they would hand out information regarding enrollment or how old a child needs to be to attend.

Tristani said in the past she has given out a prize for the best decorated cars and will do a little something again this year.

The goal of Trunk or Treat, she said, is starting the kick-off for the holiday food drive.

Those attending are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the food pantry. Some examples of items that can be collected are peanut butter, rice, cans of tuna fish and mashed potatoes.

Sometimes even agencies make food donations, Tristani said. In past years,  Catholic Charities has provided between 150 and 175 baskets for families, Tristani said. The baskets were given out between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Tristani said they will try to collect as much as possible during Trunk or Treat and then begin putting out bins for collections at different locations in the community.

“That’s the purpose, to collect for the holiday baskets,” Tristani said.