AYER -- When a group of people comes together and pulls in the same direction, marvelous things can happen.

This year, the Basile family once again challenged their employees at Catania Oils to collect food for Loaves and Fishes.

They came through in a big way. In all, 68 people gathered food for three weeks.

They gave 11,253 pounds of goods to the food pantry that helps people in need from Ayer, Devens, Groton, Littleton and Shirley. Last year, employees of the Ayer business donated 10,000 pounds.

This year, they gave enough for three meals a day for a month for a family of four, a company spokesperson wrote in an email announcing the donation.

The drive is held in the summer because that is when food supplies are the lowest.

Most donations come in the fall, around Thanksgiving.

The Basiles sweetened the pot for their hard-working employees. At stake were $25 gift cards and an extra day off for the 13- to 15-member team that donated the most.

The top three employees also got a gift card. The employee who came in first and received a $250 gift card donated it to Loaves and Fishes.

Another two received Red Sox tickets for supplying specialty items that the pantry most needed.

"I am excited and pleased that we are able to give back to our local community through our 2nd Annual Food Drive for Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry," Joe Basile said in a written statement.


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"Our employees were driven to make a difference by working together in different teams and in the end we are proud that we were able to donate over 11,250 pounds of food and supplies."

"I am very proud of all of our employees for making a difference and look forward to supporting Loaves & Fishes in the future," he wrote.

Follow Anne O'Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.