Food drive aims to help local pantries

     In an effort to wipe out hunger, the second annual United Way’s Day of Caring food drive is in full swing with blue donation barrels placed at various businesses in Columbia City, South Whitley and Churubusco. All food donated at the barrels will remain in Whitley County by supporting local food banks.
     According to Donna Weber, chairman of the Day of Caring annual food drive, locally an average of 60 to 90 families per month are served by the South Whitley food pantry; From January to June of this year, Grace Lutheran Church, the county’s largest food bank, served approximately 4,000 people and Churubusco has served approximately 310 people for the month of June.
     “We serve approximately 80 families per week just in Columbia City,” said Grace Lutheran Church food pantry director Bob Rothgeb, along with his wife Karen. “We will never turn anybody away.”
     “Let’s try to think of a neighbor, the elderly or someone that could truly need your help right now,” Weber said. “People’s stories are all different as to why they may need help ... loss of a job, loss of their home.”
     The Day of Caring food drive seeks to help those pantries help their local citizens.  Food collected within each community will stay in that community.
     Columbia City’s collection will be divided among seven food banks, Churubusco’s collection will be divided into its two locations and South Whitley has one. With donations typically higher during the holiday season, summer months are a time when the food pantries could really benefit from the help of the community.
     “Feeding a family today sometimes makes you cringe in thinking of going to the grocery,” Weber said. “Lunch for students in Whitley County range on a daily basis from $1.60 to $2, and feeding just two children weekly can be $20 ... for some this is the only hot meal they receive during the day.”
     With financial hardships and a difficult economy, more and more people are seeking emergency food assistance, many for the first time. Some of these new recipients were most likely donors just a short time ago.
     Collection bins will be out until Sept. 10, with Day of Caring set for Sept. 14. Barrels are located for food collection at:
     Columbia City:
Ace Hardware
STAR Bank/Insurance-Main
STAR Bank/Insurance-Frontage Rd.

     South Whitley:
Dollar General
Crossroads Bank
Town Hall
Fox Products
SW Post Office
STAR Bank/Insurance
SW Public Library

Dollar General
STAR Insurance

     United Way’s Day of Caring food drive is a way for the community to unite by making a change and truly understanding the meaning of how hunger can affect anyone. It’s a reminder that it takes all of us doing what we can to promote the building blocks of a good life for everyone.
     “Let’s give that hope back and let people know that Whitley County is here for them in time of need,” Weber said.
     Last year’s “Tag, you’re it” game will also be a part of this year’s food drive. If you are selected by a community TAG team player, you are given two plastic grocery bags. You will fill one and give the other away to someone for them to fill. Last year’s collection was a HUGE success, according to Weber.
     For more information on the food drive, or to participate in the “Tag, you’re it!” game, contact Weber at 248-6060.