MOUNT VERNON — Monday was the collection day for Knox County’s Food for the Hungry (FFTH) school drive. Donations were collected and transported by approximately 16 volunteers to the Blubaugh Body & Frame Service for final counting.
The food collection included donations from all Mount Vernon City Schools from kindergarten to middle school.
Coordinators Sandra Fithian and Linda Owens met with the News to discuss the drive. Captain Christine Moretz of The Salvation Army and Joy Harris, Director of Interchurch Social Services of Knox County were also present for the collection.
“The whole purpose is to get the community involved,” said Fithian, participating in her third year of the FFTH school drive.
The volunteers were responsible for distributing flyers and donation boxes in schools for the weeklong drive from Nov. 18-22. Over the week, teachers kept tallies of students and donations made in non-perishable goods or cash.
The classroom that donated the most on average per student will have a pizza party, whereas individual students who made the most contributions will have the opportunity to be interviewed by 13WMVO and WNZR during FFTH live broadcast on Dec. 14.
The interview often asks why the kids wanted to contribute to the drive.
“The younger the kids are, the more interesting and honest their answers are.” Owens said from her three years of experience.
Owens shared some stories about the passion of the students who participated in the drive: FFTH distributed flyers with “Top 10 Items Needed for Our Local Food Pantries.” One student was known to bring the list to the local supermarket and make sure to purchase at least one of each item for donation.
“A lot of these kids, they give not out of plenty but of existing (resources),” said Owens. “It’s the kind of giving that has an impact on you.”
Owens said she learned this kind of generosity out of modest means from her parents, and found it to be an important virtue to pass on and share in the community.
“In these schools, some of the kids might be recipients of the (donated) items and they might not be aware of it,” Fithian said. She stressed that all Mount Vernon donations will stay in Mount Vernon, the same with other Knox County communities.
Owens coordinated the drive in the Greater Knox schools, including East Knox, Danville, Centerburg and Fredericktown. Those donations were collected by their local Interchurch services.
The volunteers will count all the cash and food donations and translate the final figures into cans. Every dollar is marked as four cans, according to Fithian.
Fithian and Owens plan on completing the final counts within the week, however last minute donations could prolong the process—a good problem to have for the drive.
“One year, the final donations put two donors in a tie,” Owens said. She said she was happy to see the participants’ willingness and enthusiasm.
All donations will be loaded onto trucks and collected at the Knox County Memorial Building Dec. 14 at a all-day event. FFTH will announce final figures at the event for live broadcast, accompanied by activities, including a silent auction featuring four themed gift baskets.
All donations to FFTH drive will be distributed locally in Knox County through The Salvation Army and Interchurch Social Services.
Several FFTH collection points and benefiting events are still available until Dec. 14. Mount Vernon Public Library Food for Fines campaign accepts non-perishable food items as fine payments until Dec 14; auctions at Danville and Centerburg run Dec. 3-13. FFTH will also collect food and financial donations at the Mount Vernon Christmas Parade on Dec. 8.
Other events include the Foodstock Concert at the Memorial Theater Dec. 2, Kenyon Snowflake Gala Dec. 6, Fredericktown Christmas Walk Dec. 7, and Apple Valley Festival of Trees, Dec 3-31.
For more information, visit the Food for the Hungry website at foodforthehungrycares.org.