PHOTO STORY: Feed the Hungry campaign raises more than $40,000 for local food banks

Published 11:13 am Thursday, December 23, 2021

DOWAGIAC — The 12th annual C. Wimberley Feed the Hungry campaign began with flashing lights and sirens, and finished the same way.

The campaign, which partners with ACTION Ministries, raised more than $40,000 for local food pantries this year, and the grand finale Wednesday morning featured a procession of Dowagiac Police, Fire Department, True’s Towing, Cass County Sheriff’s Department and C. Wimberley vehicles escorting a Lyons Industries truck filled with food to distribute to local food pantries waiting in the parking lot of C. Wimberley Ford.

According to Feed the Hungry Chairman Jim Allen, more than 100 local businesses contributed to the campaign, which began as a way for Chuck Wimberley, owner of auto dealership C. Wimberley Automotive Group, to give back to the community during the holidays.

It has since grown into a county-wide donation tradition. This year, the pantries receiving food during the event were Helping Hands of Cass County, Church of Cassopolis, Dowagiac Church of Christ, Vandalia Church of God, Cassopolis Church of God and ACTION Ministries.

“I am blown away because things are tough right now,” said ACTION Ministries media liaison Jeff Neumann of the community response. “I was just hoping to get to our $20,000 goal.”

Neumann said after so many years, the community knows they can count on ACTION Ministries, which claims to be able to buy $6 worth of food for every $1 donated.

“I think people trust is to do what we say we’re going to do … and that makes a big difference,” Neumann said. “With my own charitable giving, it’s tough to donate to Kentucky victims because I don’t know exactly where the money is going. But here, people know we’re going to buy food and take care of business.”

In previous years, Allen said the campaign has had trouble getting Cassopolis companies to donate, but thanks to the effort of Cass County Commissioner Mike Grice, more businesses donated this year.

“Mike knows everybody and he brought Cass into the picture,” Allen said. “He was really a big part of this.”

According to Allen, 100 percent of donations go toward the project, and the food donations generally stay within the community.

“In the richest country in the world, we should be able to feed our neighbors,” Allen said. “And that’s what we’re doing.”

For Dowagiac Police Chief Steven Grinnewald, helping with the campaign is another way for the department to serve the community.

“This is huge for our community,” Grinnewald said. “This is something we look forward to every year. … It really means a lot for us to be a part of this, to be included and to do something good.”