‘Great Grocery Can-Paign’ collects half a ton of food

Sep. 18, 2013 @ 10:08 PM

The community gave more than 1,000 pounds of food during the second annual “Great Grocery Can-Paign” Wednesday in downtown Sanford.

The food collected at Depot Park will be distributed to Christians United Outreach Center of Lee County (CUOC) and the Salvation Army. The United Way of Lee County, The Herald and local radio stations WWGP and WFJA sponsored the event.

“It’s been slow but steady,” said United Way Executive Director Jan Hayes. “We are looking at anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of food.”

A tremendous food need exists throughout Lee County and North Carolina, she said, and these type of community drives restore depleted pantries.

“If people can pay their rent and keep the power on, the community can provide this inexpensive need,” Hayes said.

Despite collecting close to 6,000 pounds of food during the Lee Regional Fair last week, food donations are drastically down, according to CUOC Executive Director Teresa Kelly.

“We are always trying to play catch up,” she said. “It’s hard to keep up without having to pay for food. That is why we need the community’s support, especially as we go through the holiday season.”

Approximately 750 Lee County families receive food once a month from the organization, Kelly said.

“It helps us to be able to provide a decent box [for the families],” she said. “The fewer donations we have, the less variety they get in their box. If the community food drive isn’t meeting that demand, we have to buy food. But we can’t sustain what we are doing.”

Kathryn Dudley dropped off canned goods shortly after 11 a.m.

“I am a firm supporter of CUOC,” she said. “I volunteer there, and my church is very involved. I believe it’s a great thing for our community.”

Brenda Cobb and Mary Loving collected food during the lunch-hour shift. Both said it was their first time volunteering with the Great Can-Paign, but their church, St. Luke United Methodist Church, is heavily involved with CUOC.

“These food drives are important because of the low food supply,” Cobb said. “It’s a great feeling to give back to the community.”

The community food drive also kicks off United Way’s annual fall fundraising campaign that will last until the end of December, Hayes said.

“The funds we raise this fall will be distributed to our 21 agencies next year,” she said.

If people missed the canned food drive or want to make a contribution to United Way, they can visit www.leecountyunitedway.org/ or call (919) 776-5823.