A time to give: Food drives help make holidays brighter for those in need
PRESCOTT VALLEY - Community groups, businesses and individuals took part beginning Friday in food and charitable solicitations to ensure thousands of people in the quad-city area will enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.
Perhaps the most visible event took place Monday when the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce conducted its ninth annual Flying High Turkey Drive from noon to 6 p.m. at the two Fry's supermarkets in Prescott and Fry's in Prescott Valley.
The event collects turkeys and cash donations for the Yavapai Food Bank in Prescott Valley. Chamber officials set up headquarters at the Fry's store on Glassford Hill Road in Prescott Valley.
"I just think in general the support we got from the community is unbelievable," said Stephanie Gibson, who heads the chamber's Ambassadors.
Flying High generated the collection of 1,800 turkeys and $4,415 in cash, said Ann Wilson, executive director of the Yavapai Food Bank.
"I would say it was a little better this year," Wilson said on Tuesday morning. "Last year, we were scrambling to buy a few extra turkeys" with the cash donations.
Wilson said the food bank expected to hand out 600 to 700 food boxes Tuesday and today at its headquarters at 8666 E. Long Mesa Dr.. The food bank also planned to distribute 1,200 turkeys Tuesday and today at Living Faith Church at Coyote Springs Road off Highway 89A.
The food bank also will distribute 600 frozen turkeys to other agencies today, Wilson said.
The holiday-season collections of donations by the Salvation Army in Prescott began Friday with people manning red kettles outside businesses in Prescott and Prescott Valley. The Army will set up more than 30 kettles, Army Major Kyle Trimmer said.
Trimmer described the kettle drive as the Army's top fundraiser of the year while adding, "Those funds are used throughout the year in our local service area."
The Army conducts a food drive throughout the year, Trimmer said.
"We probably provide approximately 1,200 food boxes a year" and food for the Army's soup kitchen, which serves meals on weekdays, he said.
Food drives took place Saturday. U.S. Postal Service letter carriers collected nonperishable foods at mailboxes as part of the semiannual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. The letter carriers will supply the collections to food banks in Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley, letter carrier organizer John McCaw said.
McCaw estimated the carriers collected about 40,000 pounds of food but will not know for sure until today. They collected food from mailboxes in the quad-city area, Mayer and Bagdad.
"I think it is going to be considerably better than the one (food drive) last May," he said. He said he thinks people are more attuned to giving this time of the year, with the holidays approaching.
A new event, Cranksgiving, drew 18 participants who rode bikes to Prescott supermarkets and spent $15 of their own money to buy food to support the Hunger Relief Collaborative, event coordinator Mari Echevarria said.
Echevarria, an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer, coordinated the event for Prescott Alternative Transportation.
Most of the bicyclists carried backpacks and the others used baskets on their bikes, Echevarria said.
They collected a combined 338 pounds of food, enough to feed 670 people, Echevarria said. The Hunger Relief Collaborative requested some potatoes and onions along with nonperishable food.
The Chino Valley Food Bank will break from a 12-year tradition of supplying turkeys with food boxes today, Vice President Rudy Salazar said.
"We could not afford to get the turkeys," he said.
He said the nonprofit food bank is channeling its efforts - and donations - instead to a new building under construction on Methodist Church property on Road One South.
"We need a lot of volunteers. We need electricians," he said.
The Prescott Community Cupboard Food Bank will supply turkeys this week and for Christmas "if we have them," said Toni Bambauer, vice chairwoman. She said the cupboard supplied 599 people with food boxes in October, a record number.
The cupboard supplies four days worth of "nutritionally balanced" meals once a month to its recipients, she said.
Donations for Thanksgiving will make possible a meal that the Army will serve for the community from 10:30 to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Prescott Mile High Middle School, 300 S. Goodwin St.
The Army plans to prepare meals for about 500 people, Trimmer said.
"Right now, we are short of cranberries, cranberry sauce, baby carrots, celery, items for trail mix for the Thanksgiving meal on Thursday," Trimmer said. He said the trail mix, consisting of treats such as peanuts, M&Ms and raisons, will be in cups as garnishes for the meals.
He urged would-be donors to drop donated food at the Army at 237 S. Montezuma St.