Vincent J. Jewelers, Dowagiac Elks give to C. Wimberley’s Feed the Hungry campaign

DOWAGIAC — The 11th annual C. Wimberley’s Feed the Hungry collection campaign began with a bang.

Feed the Hungry chairman Jim Allen was presented with both a $1,000 check from Jim Frazier, of Vincent J. Jewelers, and a $3,500 check from the Dowagiac Elks Lodge to kick off the campaign Thursday in downtown Dowagiac.

After being presented with the checks in front of Vincent J. Jewelers, Allen and Frazier, along with ACTION Ministries volunteers, received a police escort to 1st Source Bank for the first official deposit. All donations go towards buying food items to help feed families in the Cass County area. Every year, new businesses and sponsors pledge to donate to the cause.

“Without 1st Source Bank, this would not be a program,” Allen said. “They help us with all of the money and paperwork and keep track of it for us.”

Allen was quick to give Frazier credit for his years of helping the campaign grow every year.

”He’s been with us since the first day,” Allen said. “Nobody knew us. Nobody knew what to do. He said we had a good idea, and he wanted to be involved.”

Frazier annually supports the Feed the Hungry campaign by selling stocking stuffer items.

“The great thing about this is that it’s all local,” Frazier said. “When someone comes into my store and wants a donation, I want to see their face. I want to know who is getting the money and I want to know where you’re from. I know everybody in the community and this is where we want to support.”

Mobile food pantries sponsored by ACTION deliver food to areas twice a month. Last year, ACTION Ministries had 20 trucks visit Cass County.

“Nationally, food pantries cannot keep up with the demand,” Allen said. “We stock ours twice a month. We’re feeding our people.”

This year, the program hopes to exceed the $30,000 it raised last year. Donations will be turned over to Dowagiac’s ACTION Ministries, a collaboration of six area churches that administers to individuals and families in the Dowagiac area.

“The funds are collected and are run through ACTION Ministries,” said Jeff Neumann, the media liaison for ACTION Ministries. “ACTION Ministries is the one which sponsors these trucks. We have a sanctioned pantry with Feeding America, so we’re allowed to order for that organization. The funds that are collected through C. Wimberley’s flows through ACTION Ministries and we work from there.”

For every $1 Feed the Hungry raises, ACTION Ministries is able to purchase $6 worth of food, Allen said.

“It’s been very, very successful,” Neumann said. “Jim Allen is the mover and the shaker for the campaign. It’s just a good all-around community effort.”

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