KILLINGTON — The ski resort is launching a program to feed the local community as well as offer grants to local businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington Resort and Pico Mountain, said Monday that the new Pay It Forward Fund will boost a local community food drive effort as well as grant between $1,000 and $2,500 to local businesses who apply.

The fund has $350,000 in it, donated by the Cumming Foundation, said Solimano. The foundation is named for John and David Cumming. John Cumming is the founder of POWDR, the company that owns the Killington and Pico resorts. The fund plans to disperse a total of $2.25 million from the foundation to POWDR resorts across North America.

The finer details of the program have yet to be sorted out, but that should happen soon, said Solimano.

“Because we’re moving so fast we haven’t got the whole application done, partly because it was part of a company-wide POWDR announcement, but by next week we should have all the details about where you go to apply and that type of thing,” he said. ‘We’ll have a link on our website, and the Vermont Community Foundation, the (Killington Pico Area Association). We’re going to make sure we get it to everybody, this is something we want people to use.”

The Vermont Community Foundation is working with Killington Resort to hold the funds and make sure the rules around donations and the like are followed, said Solimano.

“When we first started talking about this we wanted to be able to take this money from the Cumming Foundation and use it in the Killington region, so we needed a way to take that money and have it in a local nonprofit. So their role is that they’re the administrator of this fund,” he said. “They also make sure we’re meeting the IRS rules for charitable donations. There’s a lot of specific rules you have to follow and they’re the experts in that field to make sure we’re deploying the money correctly.”

Killington Resort had to end its ski season early because of the pandemic, leaving it with an inventory of food it could not sell.

“Since the coronavirus hit we’ve been doing a lot more in the local Killington area,” said Solimano. “We’ve done a couple of pretty big food drives, we cleared out all our freezers, the first round we gave to our staff and the next one we did it for the whole community.” One of the resort’s part-time ski instructors, Pam Martin, began a GoFundMe page (bit.ly/KillingtonStrong2020) to raise money for local COVID relief, said Solimano, which the resort and the town of Killington have supported. The Pay It Forward program is a separate effort.

“Right after the season ended we had our freezers full because we expected to be doing a lot more business so we said well, maybe we can do something good with what’s in this freezer so we started giving it out to staff then we started giving it to the community, and it’s snowballed into a cool thing,” he said.

Businesses that want to apply for the grant program should have an easy process in front of them, said Solimano. Right now it’s limited to small businesses in Killington.

“We’re trying to take care of the businesses up and down the road, the restaurants, the ski shops, the lodges, those types of businesses that are really impacted,” said Solimano.

keith.whitcomb@rutlandherald.com

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