The Huntsville community has come through once again for those in need.
First responders and volunteers in dozens of vehicles collected thousands of pounds of donated food during Wednesday night’s Project Porchlight food drive. The total amount donated is still being calculated, but Salvation Army staff and volunteers are grateful for the result.
They travelled up and down Huntsville streets in fire trucks and ambulances, police cars and school buses, pick-up trucks and vans, all with the same common goal: helping the less fortunate in our community to put food on their tables.
Back at the Salvation Army, several hundred volunteers were kept busy unloading bags and bags of donated food from vehicles into shopping carts which were wheeled into the building’s gym to be sorted by type. It’s a huge undertaking, one that is greatly appreciated by the organization’s staff, said Krystal Fuller, the Salvation Army’s community ministries coordinator.
The food donations collected in the weeks leading up to Christmas will see the Salvation Army Food Bank through to about June, and Fuller asked that everyone remember that the need doesn’t go away in the summer months.
Non-perishable donations can be dropped into the bins at local grocery stores year-round, or both non-perishables and fresh items can be taken directly to the Salvation Army (4 Mary Street East in Huntsville). They also accept monetary donations, which are used to purchase fresh foods or items in bulk so that the organization can take advantage of volume discounts.
“The food drive usually lasts us until June or July and then we start getting low,” said Fuller. “I really want people to know that they can drop off any type of fresh produce, fresh fruits and vegetables. We can take milk, eggs and bread. We try really hard to provide [fresh, healthy options] for people. Lunch snacks are something that people don’t always think about, for moms and dads who need to send lunches to school. That can be expensive. What do you do if you’re on a fixed income?”
The food drive is an initiative of local firefighters that began 31 years ago. They’re joined every year by other emergency services personnel and community volunteers―more than 300 in all―who chip in to help out. Those collecting and sorting donations are kept fed and hydrated by kitchen volunteers who serve pizza donated by Boston Pizza and wraps donated by Pita Pit. There are even homemade desserts donated by community members. One of the kitchen volunteers, Jan Harres, has been making and serving hot chocolate for food drive volunteers for 29 years.
This year, more than 300 local families have already registered for help through the holidays, and Salvation Army staff are expecting that number to rise to about 350 within the next few weeks.
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