EDITORIAL: ‘Can-Paign’ can’t be great without support

Sep. 18, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Today marks the second annual “Great Grocery Can-Paign,” a food drive organized by the United Way of Lee County and proudly sponsored by The Herald and local radio stations WWGP and WFJA.

The drive began last year as the idea of Jan Hayes, United Way’s executive director, after she tried to come up with a new and different way to help kick off the organization’s annual fall fund-raising campaign. Traditionally the fall is the time the United Way asks business and individuals to make annual and one-time pledges to support local agencies such as the American Red Cross, Communities In Schools of Lee County, Family Promise, the Helping Hand Clinic, local scouting organizations and the tlc Home for the coming year.

Two of the United Way’s organizations which offer food pantries — CUOC (Christians United Outreach Center of Lee County) and the Salvation Army — were the primary beneficiaries of last year’s “can”paign. The use of “can” denoted the need for non-perishable food items, like canned soups, meats and vegetables, as well as the “can-do” spirit of the event, which was held behind The Herald’s building off Horner Boulevard.

This year, the event has been moved to a more conducive location — Depot Park in downtown Sanford. But the beneficiaries are the same. So from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. today, you can load up bags of canned and other non-perishable food items, plus baby care items such as diapers and baby wipes, and drive through Depot Park to make your donation.

The needs of CUOC and the Salvation Army are great and well-documented. The increased demand on the kinds of services those two agencies offer to the needy and to the working poor has been in proportion to Lee County’s higher-than-average unemployment rate. The number of families who rely specifically on CUOC for food is staggering; fewer rely on the Salvation Army because it focuses on other areas of service and has fewer resources, but in any case the shelves of both organizations have been awfully bare the last few years.

More than 5,000 pounds of food were donated during Sunday’s final day of the Lee Regional Fair by those who were admitted free to the fair with five cans of food. The United Way, CUOC and the Salvation Army — and yes, we as an eager sponsor — are hoping today’s food totals is exponentially higher.

So take a few minutes today to bag up a few cans of food from your pantry at home, or run by a local grocery store, and make your donation. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’ll help bring a smile to a local family.