Dowagiac makes $15,000 goal to help needy in Cass CountyPublished 8:00am Monday, December 23, 2013
While the heavy fog that rolled into the area obscured the vision of Dowagiac motorists, it was quite easy to see the spirit of giving in the eyes of the volunteers who occupied the C. Wimberley Ford dealership lot Friday morning.
Dozens of local firefighters, police officers, church members and other volunteers from around the community assembled to help unload a semi-trailer filled with boxes of food, packing them in 18 flatbed trucks for distribution to local food pantries.
To the organizers of the annual “Feed the Hungry” program that was responsible for purchasing the food, the diversity of the volunteers mirrored the diversity of the people and businesses whose contributions made everything possible.
“Because of all the local businesses that came together this year, we were able to make this happen,” said Dale Dandurand, a salesperson with C. Wimberley who first organized the food drive four years ago.
This year, the auto group was determined to raise $15,000 in donations during their month- long campaign, which began the week after Thanksgiving. However, they were still around $2,500 shy of their goal the day before their deadline, prompting the program organizer, Jim Allen, to hit the pavement in a last ditch effort to raise money.
“One man gave us $100 at the jewelry store,” Allen said. “When I hugged him and thanked him for it, he told me ‘if it’s that important to you, have another $100.’”
Thanks to the surge in generosity, the drive was able to reach and surpass its goal by $300. In addition, Family Fare, a regular sponsor of the program, also upped its annual donation and sold food to the organizers at a discounted price.
“This is a great program,” said Glenn Jankowski, the manager of the Dowaigac store. “One of our missions is to help get the food they need, and “Feed the Hungry” allows us to help accomplish that.”
Friday’s food drop is the first of many that will be used with collected funds. The purchased food is distributed between many local churches and organizations, under the coordination of the local ACTION ministry network. Volunteers will deliver the food to needy Cass County families about once a month throughout next year.