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United Way feeds hundreds at emergency food drop
food drop
Residents wait as bags of groceries are prepared for distribution at the Coastal Empire United Way emergency food drop Thursday in Walthourville. - photo by Photo by Jeremy McAbee

The United Way of the Coastal Empire hosted an emergency mass mobile food drop Thursday at the Walthourville Fire Department.

According to United Way officials, 20,000 pounds of food were delivered by Second Harvest food bank – enough to feed 400 families, or roughly 2,400 people.

Community volunteers, social group members and the Faith Baptist Christian Academy’s boys' basketball team helped unload, sort and bag the groceries in an assembly line that moved quickly and efficiently.

Walthourville residents turned out in droves to receive their allotted two bags of groceries, which included boxed raisins, cranberry juice, canned salmon, canned vegetables and more.

UW of the Coastal Empire Area Director Jennifer Darsey explained requirements for recipients.

“When people show up at a mass emergency food drop, all they have to do is show up and put (the) number of people in the household,” she said. “We’re really interested in the demographic of elderly people, disabled people or children in the household. Other than that, they don’t do anything.”

Darsey said that the emergency food drop is designed for folks who may not quite qualify for food programs, such as those offered by Manna House, but still are in need.

She also said targeting the area’s rural communities is key in reaching the greatest number of people.

“It’s a matter of reaching a lot of our elderly people who are on very limited incomes,” Darsey added, explaining that some people may have a gas budget that doesn’t allow them to travel to Hinesville.

“We try to hit the rural areas of the community,” she said. “We’ll do Midway, Riceboro, Walthourville, (then) rotate.”

Darsey said the local United Way’s goal for 2014 was to conduct eight food drops. They have four more to go to reach that goal.

“We have two planned for November, one targeted closer to Thanksgiving, and two in December, again, one closer to Christmas,” Darsey said. She said the goal is to ensure everyone in the area has food for the holidays.

Walthourville Mayor Daisy Pray was on hand, helping bag groceries and distributing them to area residents.

She praised the number of city employees and senior citizens who volunteered.

“We’re doing something to help the citizens,” Pray said, “so we’re happy about that.”

The basketball team from Faith Baptist in Ludowici also turned out to lend a helping hand.

“We just try to pitch in as much as we can,” said coach Kevin Simmons, who said the majority of his team come from abroad.

“We’ve got kids from everywhere – Estonia, France, Africa, Serbia, Canada, Greece, New York, California,” Simmons said. “We’ve got them from all over.”

Simmons said that the team tries to volunteer around the area not only as a service, but also to show the exchange students around and acclimate them to America.

“Most of these guys just got here,” Simmons said. “Most of them have been here a month, two months, so we’re just trying to get them out. We’re going up to Savannah to the Ronald McDonald House. We just try to do whatever we can.”

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