Feed The Hungry campaign surpasses 2020 goal, raises $37,000

DOWAGIAC — The C. Wimberley Automotive parking lot was packed Friday morning, and it was not because of a holiday car sale.
The 11th annual C. Wimberley Automotive Feed the Hungry campaign came to an end with the distribution of thousands of pounds of food to local food pantries.

Each year, the Feed the Hungry program works to raise $20,000 worth of donations to provide food items to area food pantries. This year, the campaign surpassed its goal and raised more than $37,000.

“With the money we’ve raised, we’ll be able to purchase more than $222,000 worth of food,” said campaign spokesperson Jim Allen. “That’s just amazing. Nationally, food pantries can’t keep up with demand and we stock ours twice a month. It’s all because of stuff like this.”

The distribution process was a community effort. Lyons Industries and True’s Towing each volunteered a vehicle to pick the food from Feeding America West Michigan’s Benton Harbor warehouse. The two trucks brought the food to the C. Wimberley parking lot where members of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office and the Dowagiac police and fire departments unloaded the trucks and distributed boxes of food to the food pantries on site.

“In my opinion, this is what Dowagiac is all about,” said Director of Public Safety Steve Grinnewald. “We do this every year and we love to help out. Jim does an amazing job raising money. It’s a great way for us to connect to the community where we’re not trying to take care of bad things. This is what makes our job enjoyable. It’s too bad that people are in a position to have to need this food but we’re happy to help however we can.”

The Church of Cassopolis, 520 Pearl St., Cassopolis, was one of eight organizations on hand receiving food for food pantries. 

“To receive this is such a blessing for our food pantry,” said Donna Warren, president of Church of Cassopolis’ Missionary Society. “We have our food pantry open once a month and this is just overwhelming. We have a lot of givers and they don’t always get the recognition and we don’t give to get recognition. Knowing that there are good people out there is a great feeling.”

Every dollar collected from the campaign is turned over to Dowagiac’s ACTION Ministries, which uses the money to purchase food items from Feeding America Benton Harbor. The money raised allows ACTION to purchase two food trucks per month for the entire year starting in January.

“People are wonderful,” said ACTION Ministries president Karen Benedix. “The community has been so good to us this year during the pandemic. We have been blessed so much with monetary gifts. This makes me very happy but it doesn’t surprise me because the outpouring of support has been so great.”

Benedix said one of ACTION’s goals for the new year is to purchase a walk-in cooler to be used to extend the life of fruits, vegetables and other perishable items.

“We’re looking into grants for that,” she said. “With our success with the campaign, we may use some of the funds for a cooler. I’ve been in communication with United Way and I plan on inquiring to see if they would like to help us purchase one.”

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