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Citizens Bank of Rhode Island President Joseph J. MarcAurele recognized with Hometown Hero Award for “Striking Out Hunger” Initiative

Program in partnership with Pawtucket Red Sox and Cox Communications has raised $200,000 for Food Bank over the past three years

Providence, R.I.             (July 2, 2009) - Citizens Bank, Rhode Island President Joseph J. MarcAurele was recognized today with the Hometown Hero Award for his leading the Striking Out Hunger initiative.  The Hometown Hero Award is presented to individuals and organizations that have made substantial contributions to better their community.  The Striking Out Hunger program is a summer-long partnership between Citizens Bank, the Pawtucket Red Sox and Cox Communications to “Strike Out Hunger” across the state this summer. The partnership kicked off its third year this baseball season.

Throughout the 2009 Pawtucket Red Sox Baseball Season, the Citizens Bank Foundation donates $75 to the food bank for each strikeout recorded by a PawSox pitcher, up to $75,000. During home games, the Citizens’ donations are announced so spectators feel the excitement as more strikeouts lead to more donations to help feed our hungry neighbors during the summer months.

“I am honored to be recognized as the 2009 Pawtucket Red Sox Hometown Hero. We started the Striking Out Hunger program because summer donations to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank are critically low and children who were receiving breakfast and/or lunch at school are home for the summer which places additional stress on already tight household food budgets,” said Joseph J. MarcAurele, President, Citizens Bank, Rhode Island. “We encourage all Rhode Islanders to join us along with the Pawtucket Red Sox and Cox Communications to help Strike Out Hunger this season and make an important difference to families in need.” 

“The work of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank is an incredibly vital resource for thousands of Rhode Islanders,” said Lou Schwechheimer, Vice President & General Manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox. “The PawSox family is committed to the mission of ending hunger in our state and we hope this generous incentive encourages our fans to donate and support the food bank’s efforts.”

To help draw public interest, “Striking Out Hunger” is promoted throughout the season with public service announcements on Cox Communications’ network of cable programmers and the Pawtucket Red Sox Radio Network. The opportunity to further educate the community on the problems of hunger by reaching out and offering a way for the public to help is a key component of this initiative.

“Supporting the communities in which we live and work is a core value of Cox Communications,” said Paul Cronin, senior vice president and general manager, Cox Communications.  “We are proud to provide a critical means to raising awareness about the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and their pioneering efforts to end hunger in our state, once and for all.”

Currently, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank is feeding more than 50,000 Rhode Islanders in need each month through a network of 285 member agencies such as food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other emergency food programs. This rise in need reflects a 26 percent increase over last year. According to the USDA, nearly 11 percent of all Rhode Island households, representing 115,000 people, are at risk of going hungry. Additionally, more than 17 percent of Rhode Island’s children, one out of six, are at risk of missing meals.

“As Rhode Island’s economy continues to struggle, and unemployment grows, the need for food assistance has soared,” commented Andrew Schiff, Chief Executive Officer of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. “Thanks to the support of philanthropic organizations like Citizens Bank, Cox Communications and the PawSox, we are able to better meet the nutritional needs of the tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders who seek food assistance each month.”

About the Rhode Island Community Food Bank

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank is a nonprofit organization located in Providence, R.I. The food bank solicits, stores and distributes food products donated by supermarkets, wholesalers, food processors, local farmers and community food drives. The food is then distributed to the food bank’s network of more than 300 member agency programs. In the past fiscal year, the food bank distributed 8.4 million pounds of food. For more information about the food bank, please visit www.rifoodbank.org

About the Citizens Bank Foundation

Citizens Bank Foundation is a charitable contributions vehicle of Citizens Bank. The foundation’s support is focused on housing, community development and basic human needs.