Originally Published: December 6, 2018 8:46 p.m.
It all started with a passion to take care of the hungry, said Western News&Info Events & Marketing Director Lew Rees.
From that passion came Burning Desire to Feed the Hungry, created with a good friend from Yavapai Broadcasting during Rees’ decade-long tenure as the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce director.
“We were always trying to create worthwhile community events,” Rees said. “One of the things that was always near and dear to me was helping people not just during the holiday season, but after the holiday season.”
This year, Burning Desire to Feed the Hungry happens from noon Friday, Dec. 14, to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, in the parking lot of Safeway in Prescott Valley, 7220 E. Highway 69, Prescott, 1044 Willow Creek Road, and Cottonwood, 1635 E. Cottonwood St.
A part of the “Courier Cares” initiative, The Daily Courier is working with Yavapai Broadcasting and staff from both will hunker down in the parking lot, spending a cold day and night outdoors warmed by a fire while raising food and donations for Yavapai Food Bank. Also they don’t eat.
One of the keys to Burning Desire to Feed the Hungry is that people are quite generous during the month of December, but then kind of forget about the people who are in the same condition in January as they were in December.
Yavapai Food Bank President Bob Wilson echoed Rees’ statements, noting that there is a stark difference in the amount of donations between December and January.
“Donations fall off rapidly after Jan. 1,” Wilson said, adding what’s raised from the event definitely helps carry the organization through the holiday season and helps to feed a lot of people.
As such, the hope is that Burning Desire to Feed the Hungry fills the food bank so there is enough food to last months after the holiday season, Rees said. Further, the main focus for carrying out the event in the way it’s done is to feel what people who are hungry and less fortunate go through, he said, challenging anybody to go out into the freezing cold weather and not eat anything for more than 24 hours.
“You begin to get more compassion for somebody in a bad situation,” Rees said. “It’s easy to overlook people who are less fortunate and downtrodden and don’t have the same deals as we do.”
If three hungry children or two elderly adults who haven’t had anything to eat are fed because of Burning Desire to Feed the Hungry, then it’s all worth it, Rees said.
At the same time, it’s also worth it if 10, 12, 15 or 20 people get the spark to want to do something on a regular basis, he said.
“Hunger never goes away and hunger knows no race, no creed, no color. Hunger hits everyone,” Rees said.
“This isn’t identity politics … everybody can have a point in life when they’re down and out and they need some help and they don’t always want to go and ask for it the help, but the help is there if they need it.”