The United Way of the Flint Hills held its second annual Drive-Thru Food Drive Tuesday as the community came out in droves to support the agency’s 2021 campaign kick-off.

Cars loaded with food, hygiene products and cleaning supplies drove up to the Anderson Building at the Lyon County Fairgrounds, which United Way Executive Director Mickey Edwards said worked smoothly and would be the location for future food drives. A preliminary count at the event totaled 1,400 pounds of donations. The food drive saw a peak between 4:30 - 5:15 p.m., Edwards said. This year’s drive is expected to meet or exceed last year’s count.

“People think of the food drive and bring food, but we were also encouraging the cleaning and hygiene products,” she said. “Some of our community partners have had a lot of expenses relating to cleaning products lately so we are trying to supplement their cleaning needs.

“Some of our agencies, not only do they help out by providing food to families, families need toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo and body wash so we are happy to be able to provide some of that to their shelves as well.”

Not only do six agencies benefit from the food drive, but they also show their support by volunteering time at the food drive. Donations go to Communities in Schools of Mid-America, Emporia Child Care Center and SOS Inc., which were added to the drive this year, in addition to Osage County Help House, Morris County Care & Share and The Salvation Army.

Deb Crowl, administrator at Emporia Child Care Center, helped out by weighing items at the drive.

“We requested cleaning supplies because we have them, but with COVID we’ve been cleaning and cleaning again just to be safe,” she said. “The children we serve can’t be vaccinated, so we are trying to keep that extra layer of protection for all of them.”

Another agency added to the food drive, SOS Inc., was grateful for the donations it would receive.

“SOS has four programs and the shelter is for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, so we are full often and we need items for the shelter — food and troiletries — so we will definitely be grateful for those donations,” said Tara Schnakenburg, director of the SOS Child Visitation Exchange Center. “Our Casa program has court-appointed advocates to work with children in foster care, and so there is a need in all of our programs where we work with families that are going through situations where there is loss-of-income and other situations where they are in need of food so we are happy to be able to provide that to them through this food drive.”

Another agency relying on the food drive is The Salvation Army. Salvation Army volunteer Jeff Ru ffin helped out at the event.

“We have a food pantry, and what this does is help resupply the food pantry,” he said. “When people can’t make our bread lines or our food distribution that is done once a month, then we have the food pantry to help take care of that. This is a tremendous help. This year, because of the pandemic, the giving hasn’t been as great when in prior years people have donated up to 7,000 pounds of food. Nobody has to go hungry, especially children in our community.”

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