Despite this morning’s cold temperatures, and through the spitting snow, students of Lakeland Christian Academy were out bright and early collecting grocery bags full of food for the school’s annual community service project.
The LCA Food Drive to benefit Combined Community Services this year brought in 11,000 pounds of food. That topped last year’s drive by 400 pounds. This was the fifth year the school has held the food drive to stock the CCS Food Pantry.
Each year, LCA students leave grocery bags at homes in a number of Warsaw and Winona Lake neighborhoods. They also leave a flier attached to the bag explaining the purpose of their project and asking the community to fill a bag with nonperishable food items for the CCS Food Pantry.
“Every year I’m impressed with the generosity of our community; it’s really good,” said Ali Slabaugh, an LCA senior and one of the event coordinators. Also coordinating the food drive was Emily Daniels, Johanna Bramlett and Brandon Wildman.
CCS Director of Client Assistance, Peggi Lisenbee-Wright, said, “I’m proud of the kids going out in spite of the rain and snow … and of the community for donating.”
Lisenbee-Wright also noted the thoughtfulness of the donors. “I was going through and sorting some of the food and noticed the gluten-free pancake mixes, the low salt soups and the sugar free syrups,” she said. “Lakeland included in their fliers about our healthy choice pantry and the community responded well to that. That’s really exciting.”
Emily Daniels said she looks forward to helping CCS with the food drive each year noting, “They are always in need of supplies and I feel like it’s an ongoing need that we can get involved with.”
The students collected food donations in more than 60 neighborhoods this morning. With the help of staff and parent volunteers, they filled carload after carload and approximately 7 truckloads with food donations.
Due to the weather conditions, the food was taken to LCA where it was sorted by the students by category. It was then re-loaded back into the trucks and delivered to CCS where it was weighed and students re-stocked shelves.
CCS Executive Director Steve Possell noted of the LCA food drive, “This is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for CCS, especially for food, and with the new client choice food pantry we are seeing even more clients.”
With today’s collections, another food drive underway right now by Warsaw Community Church that runs through June 1, and yet another food drive by the United States Postal Service coming up May 11, Lisenbee-Wright said the CCS Food Pantry will be in good shape probably into early June, but with an average of 550 families being served each month, the need for donations will continue.
“We were seeing more than 600 families a month but that dropped a bit around tax time,” explained Lisenbee-Wright. “It’s safe to say we are back up again to about that many families, or at least in 550 range. With the healthy choice option we have, people are able to get more of the foods they want.”
Donations of nonperishable foods can always be brought to Combined Community Services, 1195 Mariners Dr., Warsaw. For more information on how to help, call 574-269-6019.