Each year as the holiday season rolls around, the local Blue Valley Community Action pantry sees an influx of food brought in by individuals, schools, churches and businesses. Local communities collect food items in a variety of ways including soup suppers, challenges and contests filling the pantry shelves just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This season has been no exception as BVCA Family and Community Services coordinator Ryan Bailey is quick to testify. “The pantry was at its lowest ever,” she said. “We rely on these donations to fill the shelves not only for the holiday season, but for winter as well. Frankly, the food goes out as fast as it comes in.”
Topping the scales this season was a donation made by local church groups when they combined to give the pantry over 2,408 pounds of food. “For the month of November we held a contest to encourage the public to donate food to the pantry,” said Subway Restaurant manager at Hebron, Lonnie Kolar. “We offered prizes to the person or group who donated the most food.”
Kolar said with assistance from a couple of local businesses, Subway was able to offer prizes to the top three donators. As fate would have it, the three top prizes went to local church groups: United Methodist Church of Hebron with 1,406 pounds; United Methodist Church of Chester with 501 pounds and Sacred Heart Catholic Church youth group of Hebron with 389 pounds.
“As the holiday seasons are upon us,” Kolar added, “I am faced with looking back on this year and thanking God for the opportunities that He has set before me in order to help others with offering employment opportunities, or raising funds to help bless others in need.
“There is never a day that passes that I am not grateful to the members of the surrounding communities as well as here in Hebron for allowing my staff and I to serve them here at Subway. I appreciate everyone who took a moment out of their lives to donate.”
A second hefty donation came in early December when the Bruning-Davenport middle school officers collected 1,301 pounds of food for the pantry. Students McKenna Schardt, Brice Ardissono, Morgan Lowery, and Josh Hinrichs spearheaded the collection turning to a challenge from Industrial Technology teacher Jay Arnold.
Arnold said that if students could raise 1,000 pounds of food, then they could tape him to the wall using duct tape. BD principal Patrick Moore joined in and offered to let the students do the same with him.
“Following the first week, students in the elementary and middle school brought in 400 pounds of food,” said Bruning-Davenport instructor Debra Albers. “After that it continued to come into the school in a pretty steady flow.”
Albers said as the students neared the deadline, and with one day left, the weight was 49 pounds shy of the treasured 1,000 pounds. On the last day of the collection, 340 pounds of food miraculously showed up at the school. “The preschool kids in Bruning donated another 12 pounds to top off the weight,” she said.
The students donated the food to the pantry Dec. 6. Three days later all elementary and junior high students duct taped Arnold and Moore to the wall in the gymnasium at Davenport. Albers said she estimated the “hanging” would take 14 rolls of tape.
Projects such as these go a long way to help fill the shelves of the local pantry Bailey commented. “We were really surprised with the amount of food brought in and we are extremely grateful to everyone who took the time to donate. The filled shelves look great and we are ready for the holidays.”