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Bereans Lend Cans and Helping Hands

The cold weather was not a deterrent to volunteers taking part in the 14th annual Hunger Hurts Food Drive at the First Christian Church of Berea sponsored by Students for Appalachia (SFA) on October 28. Members of Bonner Scholars, a service learning program within SFA, and surrounding residents of the Berea community were in attendance. Volunteers worked to sort goods and drive routes to gather food for those in need. Canned goods, noodles and cereals were some of the many items donated.

Students working at food drive

Another volunteer group collecting bags was the Teen Mentoring program, a program supported by the SFA. “Seeing so many bags gave me a warm feeling inside by letting me know how much people really care,” Said Josh Sparks, a student member of the program.

Much of the food donated will be used for the emergency needs as well as for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas season. “I think the food drive raises awareness in the community that there are people in our community that are going hungry and it pulls the community together for a good cause,” said Terri Daugherty, a student volunteer.

As with many donation sites, all donated goods were sorted by category before being placed in storage. During the drive, crates upon crates filled with food were brought and placed on tables, and some volunteers sorted while others lugged in food from the outside vans. “I’m excited that we are feeding people that usually don’t have food for the holidays,” said Joy Jemison, a student volunteer. “I want them to have full bellies and big smiles.”

In deciding which families will receive food donated, Berea Food Bank employees conduct interviews of applicants to assess their need, often suggesting other alternate forms of assistance available. The Berea food bank currently serves 400 families in the lower Madison County area.

In previous years, the food drive has raised 7,000 lbs of donated goods, and this year's effort is estimated to equal or top last year's total. In preparation for the food drive, 3,500 brown bags were distributed throughout Berea’s community asking residents to donate food and/or monetary donations. Yet, this year with Berea’s growing population, there was a shortage of bags. Next year SFA will order additional bags to increase donations and hopefully gain the support of more volunteers.

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