Originally Published: December 13, 2012 9:50 p.m.
Sixteen years ago, a group of Prescott Valley businesspeople spent a December night outdoors fasting for 24 hours around a burn barrel to glimpse what it is like to be homeless, hungry and cold.
It was unpleasant, but eye-opening. The good part was they received a truckload of food donations for the Yavapai Food Bank.
Many of the founders of Burning Desire to Feed the Hungry participate every year, but community contributions to the food drive have fallen off while need has increased.
To get back to the original purpose, volunteers will give up 27 hours this weekend, from noon Friday until 3 p.m. Saturday, collecting food and cash donations in the Safeway parking lots on Highway 69 in Prescott Valley and on Willow Creek Road in Prescott.
In addition to Safeway, this year's major sponsors include Patriot Disposal, Affinity RV, McWhite's North American Van Lines, the Arizona Sundogs, Tim's Toyota Center, Pepsi, Yavapai Food Bank, KKLD, Q102, KVRD, Prescott Newspapers, Inc., and the Prescott Valley Entertainment District.
A number of other volunteers - such as Bradshaw Mountain High football players and Hampton Inn staff - will contribute their energy as well.
"Food is a basic human need.
We wanted people to realize that there are people who are hurting in our community," said Burning Desire founder Lew Rees, who also now serves on the Yavapai Food Bank board.
Rees said giving a few dollars or a couple of cans of food is within the reach of most people.
"The reality is the gift is for us, that's what Christmas is about," he said.
He noted that in a moment, a person's life can change for the worse, without any fault on that "We could be in the same situation and what if we had no one to step up and help?" he wondered. "We can make a difference."
Rees and friends are asking community folks to stop by to fill the McWhite's trailer again, to help restock the food bank's shelves.
Anyone who wants to drop off blankets, warm clothes and such is welcome.
"Put yourself in that situation, and bring whatever you feel like you would need," Rees said.
For more information, call the food bank at 928-775-5255.
Cheryl Hartz is a reporter for the weekly Prescott Valley Tribune.