Canned food drive doubles last year’s numbers

Published 11:27pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reliable Cadillac – GMC recently wrapped up their annual pre-Thanksgiving canned food drive with the local business more than doubling what they collected last year – their first year.

The idea, which was the brainchild of Fixed Operations Manager Jason Smith, resulted in more than 200 pounds of food being collected. All the food is being donated to the Christian Outreach Alliance Food Pantry, which is a program currently operated by four downtown Selma churches; Church Street United Methodist, First Presbyterian, First Baptist and St. Paul’s Episcopal.

“This is something that helps the shop and also helps the community,” said Smith, who gave a discount to service department customers in exchange for canned goods. “Buddy Perkins [COA board member] is a customer here and asked who we were going to donate it to. When he explained their program we decided to donate it to them.”

Miller Childers, who serves on the board of COA, said the staff of the food pantry is totally comprised of volunteers, and has been giving away bags of food to qualified participants since 1995. COA records show through Nov. 18 this calendar year, the food pantry has already given away 9,100 bags of food to 881 registered clients, with 405 volunteers contributing their time and energy to help the program operate. Qualified clients are eligible to receive food twice each month.

“We begin packing bags on Wednesday at 1 p.m. and give out the food on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon,” he said. “Last week we gave away 473 bags of groceries in two hours; the largest we’ve ever given out.”

The COA food pantry has an annual budget of $28,000 and comes strictly from grants, memorials and donations. Additionally, Leadership Selma, Greater New Hope Baptist Church, Edgewood Elementary and Morgan Academy have donated items collected through food drives.

Childers said each bag contains roughly 8.5 pounds of food.

Reliable owner Bill Porter hopes others who do not have a similar program of giving back to the community look for a way to develop one.

“This is something that is needed and something that is good for Selma,” he said. “We hope everybody in Selma would follow suit because it would really add up.”

The food pantry is located on J.L. Chestnut Boulevard near the intersection of Mabry Street. All participants must pass U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines in order to qualify. Those interested in more information on qualifications or to volunteer can call 872-6904.

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