Stephen E. Garner Week of Caring

Illustration shows individuals of different races, genders, and faiths engaging with each other at a food pantry. Text reads: United Way of Tompkins County's Stephen E. Garner Week of Caring. Presented by Wegmans. Restocking the pantries and community cupboards of Tompkins County.

The Stephen E. Garner Week of Caring is an annual event held by the United Way of Tompkins County. Each year UWTC engages members of the community in collecting donations of food, personal care, baby care, and household cleaning items to help restock the many pantries and community cupboards across Tompkins County. Local businesses and organizations across the area serve as collection sites or hold organization-wide donation drives to encourage community-wide participation. On the final day of the event, volunteers gather to sort and equitably divide all of the donations for distribution to area pantries and community cupboards. 

If you or your business would like to get involved by serving as a donation site, making a bulk product donation, or volunteering to sort donations for distribution at our Day of Caring event; please contact Senior Director of Community Impact, Gregg Houck, at



Donations Accepted Monday, September 11th - Thursday, September 21st During The Open Hours of the Donation Site

Final Pre-Event Collection at United Way Office Noon - 5:30PM Thursday, September 21st

Bring Your Donation to Cass Park on Friday, September 22nd between 8:00AM and 11:00AM

Day of Caring Event and Campaign Kick-off Friday, September 22nd at Cass Park - Large Pavilion



CFCU Community Credit Union
(Meadow St, Triphammer, and East Hill Branches)

Cornell University
(Toni Morrison Dining, Becker Dining, and Robert Purcell Community Center)

M&T Bank
(Downtown and Triphammer Offices)

Newfield Library

Southworth Library - Dryden

Tompkins Community Bank
(Main, Plaza, Triphammer, East Hill, West End, and Dryden Offices)

Tompkins-Cortland Community College

Trumansburg Shur-Save

United Way of Tompkins County

Village of Groton Offices



UWTC will gladly accept cash or gift card donations in support of food security. 

Purchase a Wegmans gift card to donate here.

Gift cards for other Tompkins County retailers are also welcomed.

Please mail checks or gift cards to:
United Way of Tompkins County
313 N. Aurora St.
Ithaca, NY 14850

Please include "Food Security/Week of Caring" on your check's memo line.

Support food security by making an online donation here.

Be sure to scroll down and enter your gift under "Hunger and Food Security".



Non-Perishable Proteins

Of the three nutritional cornerstones of carbs, proteins, and fats, protein is by far the most difficult to come across, especially in a shelf-stable form which takes up less of limited fridge space. Food pantries can always use canned meats like tuna or chicken. Nut butters like peanut or almond are great options. Beans are a versatile form of protein, too!

Meals in a Can/Box

We all have those days where we just don’t want to cook or put a lot of thought into how the ingredients in the fridge can combine into a decent meal. Both of these points are especially true for those who rely on food pantries to feed themselves and their families. They’re often overworked and underpaid, and sometimes the random assortment of what’s available at the pantry that week doesn’t lend itself to a cohesive meal.

Meals in a can or box can help. Things like soup, stew, chili or mac and cheese boxes that contain a pre-made cheese sauce (not the type that requires additional milk or butter) are great options. These are quick and easy to make while still feeling like a complete meal.

Low-Sugar Cereals or Oatmeal

For many, kids especially, breakfast means a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. By providing low-sugar options, you’re helping them get off to a great start. Cereal is also especially portable and doesn’t need any preparation to be enjoyed. 

100% Fruit Juice

Check the label and make sure that “juice” isn’t actually filled with high fructose corn syrup and other unhealthy fillers and chemicals.

Single servings are the best because they are the most portable which makes them perfect for school lunches, but any size so long as it’s actual juice will be greatly appreciated.

Canned Staples

Canned food is the go-to for any food pantry, but even in this section, there are ways to improve your donation.

For vegetables, try to select low-sodium options. For fruit, choose brands that are canned in juice rather than syrup. Those minor changes can have a big impact on the health of the people who receive your donations!

Choose pop-tops whenever you can! This small consideration can make life ten times easier for the receiver of your donation.

Cooking Essentials

It’s hard to make a meal that appeals to the taste buds without a little oil and spices. Consider donating healthy oils like olive oil, which is a kitchen staple. And spices like garlic powder, salt, pepper, and onion powder (just to name a few!) can really transform a meal from bland and basic to terrific and tasty!

Baby Basics

Having a baby can be especially difficult for families hit hard by bad economic luck. Consider including things especially for baby in your donation like diapers, baby food, and formula. These are important things for a new family to have, but are often forgotten!

Personal Care

Toilet paper. Toothpaste. Paper towels. Soap. Shampoo and conditioner. Deodorant. Feminine hygiene products. These are things folks need, but these necessities aren’t usually available at local pantries. Giving personal hygiene items can really help people’s dollars go further.

Cleaning and Laundry

Having the ability to maintain a clean home and clean laundry promotes good household health. Products like laundry detergent, disinfecting wipes/spray, dish soap, and all purpose cleaners can be extremely cost prohibitive for economically challenged households. 

Something Special

Consider items that might be a special treat for a household that can only afford essentials. Cake or cookie mix, canned frosting, and candles are great to be able to whip up a birthday treat. Kids also love snacks! Fruit snacks, applesauce pouches, granola bars, and popcorn are all options.



Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

Baptized Church of Jesus Christ Food Distribution Center

Child Development Council

Cornell Food Pantry

Food Pharmacy at Ithaca Free Clinic Clinic

Immaculate Conception Food Pantry

Ithaca College - The Pantry at Ithaca College

Ithaca Kitchen Cupboard in the Salvation Army Building

Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County - St. John’s Episcopal Church

No Más Lágrimas | No More Tears – Henry St. John Building

St. John’s Community Service Pantry

The Salvation Army

Southside Community Center

Tompkins Community Action

YMCA of Ithaca & Tompkins County Food Pantry

Caroline Food Pantry Brooktondale Community Center

Danby Food Pantry - Danby Community Church

Dryden Kitchen Cupboard - Dryden Presbyterian Church

Enfield Food Distribution – Enfield Community Building

Freeville Food Pantry - Freeville United Methodist Church

Groton Food Providers

Lansing Food Pantry

Newfield Kitchen Cupboard - United Methodist Church

Trumansburg Food Pantry - Trumansburg United Methodist Church 



January 21, 1946 – May 27, 2006

Steve Garner was a man of utmost honesty, integrity, and commitment. He was a dedicated family man, a passionate business leader, and a friend and mentor to countless people. Steve was a tireless worker and was committed to building relationships with his family, within the organizations he worked with and supported, and throughout the communities he served. He had a playful spirit, and a wonderful sense of humor. Of Steve's many gifts, he is remembered as a remarkable leader. He cared deeply about the personal and professional development of his family, friends, and business associates. Nothing made Steve as happy as seeing the people around him grow to their full potential. Steve was also a gifted communicator, individually, and in front of the many groups with whom he spoke. His humor, presence, and genuine affection for others is dearly missed. Steve served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Tompkins Trust Company in Ithaca. He moonlit as a coach for many of his children's athletic teams; an avocation that was every bit as important to him as his banking career. In addition, he participated extensively in community service organizations in all the communities of which he had been a part. He had a life long commitment to his local church, institutions of higher education, The United Way, and the American Heart Association. Steve died at the Cayuga Medical Center on Saturday, May 27, 2006. He was 60 years old. Steve's death came suddenly, and far too early, but his time on earth was a gift to our community.