Countywide Drive To Fill Food Pantries

ST. MARYS — A local organization is working to make a difference in the community by holding a food drive this weekend to benefit local food pantries.

The United Way of Auglaize County will be holding its third annual Christmas in July food drive from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Executive Director Randy Fisher said the drive is meant to bring awareness of the poverty and hunger in the area.

“We started this drive for two reasons,” Fisher said. “One is to call attention to the fact that there’s poverty that happens and hunger that takes place in the summer months, as well as around the holidays.”

Fisher said the local community is generous during the holiday season and needs to be aware that the problems still exist during the summer.

“Our community is extremely generous around Thanksgiving and Christmas time and the outpouring of support they give to our food banks is phenomenal,” Fisher said. “But those same families that are hungry during December, January and February are still hungry in June, July and August as well.”

Hunger and poverty can be worse during the summer, Fisher added.

“In most cases, it’s worse because those families are getting one free meal a day provided by the school systems (during the school year) and those kids are now home, and they have to provide another meal,” Fisher said.

“So it puts this tension on our food banks at that particular time, so that’s one of the reasons why we have these food drives that take place now — to help replenish the stock and to help raise awareness to the issue.”

Fisher noted that the Christmas in July food drive will help several local food banks.

“We collect the food and then we distribute it to the Auglaize County Crisis Center, Agape Ministries in St. Marys and Mercy Unlimited in Wapakoneta,” Fisher said.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters takes some school supplies and some snacks for their after school programs. It all gets distributed amongst our agencies.”

Fisher said the food drive will help feed approximately 40 families for two days.

“It’s a lot of food, but it doesn’t get enough,” Fisher said.

“These food banks need our support, especially during the summer months because they’re feeding so many hungry kids right now.”

Although the drive only runs on Saturday, Fisher noted that donations are being collected at the United Way offices all week.

Donations for the Christmas in July food drive will be collected at Pantry Pride and Kroger in St. Marys, Howell’s IGA in New Bremen, Wagner’s IGA in Minster, and the Community Market and Wal-Mart in Wapakoneta.