EDITORIAL: For struggling families, every can helps

Sep. 07, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Keeping the shelves of local food pantries stocked has been a battle, as you’re probably aware. Increasing demand (owing to the high joblessness rate) and decreasing supply (owing to funding and donation shortfalls) means more families are in need of stores from a dwindling supply.

Fortunately, the Lee County community continues to respond through organizations like CUOC (Christians United Outreach Center) and the Salvation Army. And coming up are two prime opportunities to respond again.

First up is “The Fair Can-Paign,” a special promotion held by the Sanford Lions Club in conjunction with this year’s Lee Regional Fair, which kicks off next week. The fair event, slated for Sept. 15, will allow visitors free gate admission with the donation of five cans of nonperishable food. Volunteers will be stationed at the gates of the Lee Regional Fair on the event’s closing day to accept the donations of canned food and deliver them to areas and agencies in need.

Then, a few days later, is the second annual “Great Grocery Can-Paign,” sponsored by The Herald and the United Way of Lee County. Like last year, it’s a day-long public collection of canned foods. This year, it’ll take place at Depot Park in downtown Sanford, where volunteers will operate a “drive-and-drop” location between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (Rain date is Sept. 25.) Local radio stations WWGP and WFJA are also sponsoring the event.

Jan Hayes, the executive director of the United Way, recently told the story of a woman who came to last year’s event to deliver food donated by her 102-year-old mother, and another contributor who unloaded numerous bags of food and personal care items, including 300 disposable baby diapers — another essential item distributed by nonprofit agencies.

“It’s true that the economy has been improving a little bit in recent months, but that doesn’t mean everyone is doing well,” says Hayes. “Our local food banks and emergency pantries are still struggling to keep pace with all of the legitimate requests for help. This is a perfect way we can all work together to help our neighbors.”

So make note of the dates, and plan to take part.