Dowagiac kicks off annual Feed the Hungry campaign

DOWAGIAC — An annual program to provide food to Dowagiac’s hungry has kicked off just in time for the holiday season.

Last week, members of the C. Wimberley Automotive’s annual Feed the Hungry campaign began raising money for the holiday fundraiser, which will pay for food items to help feed Cass County families throughout the next year. So far, 64 local businesses have pledged to donate to the cause, according to Jim Allen, chairperson of the program.

“That is huge,” Allen said. “We are really excited.”

This year, the program is looking to raise $20,000 worth of donations, a goal which was exceeded by $6,000 last year. Donations will be turned over to Dowagiac’s ACTION Ministries, which will use the money to purchase food items through matching grants. For every $1 Feed the Hungry raises, ACTION will be able to purchase $6 worth of food, Allen said.

On the Friday before Christmas, food items will be transported to food pantries in Dowagiac and Cassopolis, while the remaining donations will be used to bring mobile food pantries — which can bring in more fresh produce than local food pantries — to various sites in Cass County throughout 2019.

In 2018, 18 of the year’s 19 Feed the Hungry mobile trucks fed 1,280 families and 3,678 individuals, according to data provided by ACTION Ministries.

As representatives with ACTION feed those in need once a week through their food pantry, they said they support Feed the Hungry because it allows them to reach an even wider group of people.

“There are so many hungry people in this town, I cannot believe it,” said Karen Benedix, a representative with ACTION Ministries. “They really need it, and they are so grateful.

C. Wimberley Automotive supports the program in various ways, including by supplying cars for Allen and other volunteers to use while seeking out donations. Sales Manager Dallas Wimberley said that — as a business leader — he believes it is important that C. Wimberley Automotive gives back to the city through Feed the Hungry.

“It’s an excellent program,” Wimberley said. “It’s just well worth it. It’s nice to give back to your community.”

Allen said he hopes the community will once again embrace the Feed the Hungry program, so that it can feed the people of Dowagiac for another year.

“Food is the way to help people,” he said.

On Saturdays, representatives with Feed the Hungry will be at the Dowagiac Family Fare and Harding’s from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. accepting donations. To participate during the week, residents can drop off donations at 1st Source Bank, C. Wimberley Ford or Honor Credit Union or call Allen at (269) 779-1691.

“I’ll go get the donation, it doesn’t matter if it is $1,” Allen said.

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