MOUNT CARMEL - A New Jersey entertainer originally from Mount Carmel has made an eight-week challenge to local residents and businesses to help a local food pantry.

Charlie Prose, who has entertained audiences both locally and around the world, said he will match up to $1,000 in monetary donations to the Mount Carmel Area Food Bank, located in First Congregational Church, North Market Street.

"I know that things are not good up there," Prose said last week by phone from his Mays Landing, N.J., office. "Things are tough for everyone, and I want to do my little part."

Inside a room the church provides for the pantry, organizer Bernice Price, a woman in her 80s, and several of

her volunteers look over the stockpile of food.

"We're a little down, but that doesn't bother us; we have great people that help us and businesses like Walmart, Weis, Boyer's and the Central Pa. Food Bank," Price said.

While she is satisfied with the amount of food, it's money that the organization needs.

"We need to help pay the electric bill to keep some refrigerators going and the lights on in the place," Price said. "We have other bills we need to pay, and also to buy emergency food if we need it. Our bank account is pretty low."

Price said 260 people are registered to receive food, but 50 or 60 come for each bi-monthly distribution.

Upping the ante

In past years, Price contacted Prose for a donation, and the entertainer has never turned them down. When it came time for a donation this year, Prose decided to up the ante, using an old incentive he would do while hosting a telethon.

"Not only do I hope that this will turn $1,000 into $2,000, but it will also give them a little bit of visibility and show the good work they are doing," Prose said.

He said he's always been proud during his long career to tell people about his hometown.

"I've always told people on stage that I come from a little town called Mount Carmel, Pa., a great community with great values," Prose said. "I still feel that way about the place today. It is a community that will help one another when needed, and this is something the Mount Carmel Food Pantry needs today."

Anyone wishing to send a monetary donations toward Prose's challenge can mail it to the Mount Carmel Area Food Bank, c/o Bernice Price, P.O. Box 258, Marion Heights 17832.