WARWICK-It all started with a brief comment. On Friday evening, Dec. 17, Warwick merchant Debbie Iurato mentioned to radio host Dick Wells that the Warwick Ecumenical Council's Food Pantry was woefully short of the cash necessary to help local needy families during the holiday season. The following morning Wells spoke to Frank Truatt, owner of local radio station WTBQ (1110 AM). Wells was about to go on the air with his usual Saturday morning music program and he suggested an impromptu radio appeal to help the Food Pantry. Truatt agreed but no one had any idea if, on such short notice, they would be successful. Nevertheless, Wells made the announcement that the station had set a goal of $1,000 during his broadcast. "We asked for $25 donations," said Wells. "I was relieved when we immediately received two pledges and then thrilled when one of my sponsors, Leo Kaytes, called in with a $100 donation." Wells also made a cash donation and then offered his baseball bat, signed by former Yankee star Wade Boggs, for anyone who donated $150. The invitation was immediately accepted. Towards the close of his impromptu "radio-thon," Wells announced that they were $165 short of their goal. "Right then," he said, "another of my sponsors, Bill Wadeson, covered the shortage." On Wednesday, Dec. 22, Truatt and Wells visited the Food Pantry at Warwick's United Methodist Church on Forester Ave. to present a check for $1,000 to the team volunteers for the Christmas Food Basket program. Most of the volunteers were on hand that day to distribute more than 175 food baskets and to man the Christmas Shoppe, which offers donated new toys and other children's gifts to parents at a fraction of their value. "We are grateful to WTBQ and all those who contributed to this urgent appeal for their generous support," said volunteer Amy Lawlor. "This is a wonderful Christmas gift for our program and those we serve." Volunteer Michele Carter also expressed her gratitude and urged others to help the Food Pantry. "After the holidays are over," she said, "our work goes on. The families we serve need our assistance throughout the year." Planning for next year's Christmas Food Basket Program begins in September. Anyone wishing to volunteer their time or contribute to the Ecumenical Council's Food Pantry can call Michele Carter (986-4457) or Amy Lawlor (986-7457).