Columbia County residents are not immune to hunger.
That’s the message Susanne Beeland wants to get across as the inaugural Food 2 Fight Hunger drive quickly approaches.
“I think it’s just really to raise awareness that there is a lot of hunger, even in Columbia County,” Beeland, vice president of the Evans Lions Club, said about the food drive. “I think a lot of people traditionally don’t think of homeless or hungry people in Columbia County, because you don’t see it as (prominently) as you do in Richmond County.”
Beeland thought it would be fun to turn the drive into a “food fight,” pitting Richmond and Columbia counties against each other, with the common goal of collecting food for the hungry.
She contacted The Salvation Army in Augusta, and the organization quickly signed on to participate.
Saturday, the Evans Lions Club will be collecting nonperishable food items in the Kroger parking lot on Washington Road in Evans, while The Salvation Army will set up its display at the Kroger on Washington Road at Alexander Drive in Augusta.
Food can be dropped off from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
“It can be boxed food or it can be canned food, either one,” Beeland said. “Anything (that’s) non-perishable.”
Beeland does encourage participants to drop off food items such as canned meats and fruits, peanut butter and cereal boxes in addition to more traditional canned food staples.
Law enforcement and firefighters from both counties also will be on hand to help each team collect food, Beeland said.
“We want the community to feel that they’re helping their neighbors, that we are working together to knock out hunger,” she said.
Food collected in Richmond County will assist The Salvation Army’s local programs as well as the Masters Table Soup Kitchen in downtown Augusta.
In Columbia County, donated food will go to Columbia County Cares food pantry in Appling and the New Hope/First Baptist Church Bridge Ministries.
“I don’t know how to express how important this is,” said Columbia County Cares Director Dave Iverson. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of months.
“Food drives are absolutely essential to keep this operation in business.”
Iverson said that, with the exception of food drives and donations, the pantry must purchase all food that is distributed.
The food pantry also assists Columbia County Connections in feeding hungry children while school is out for summer break, he said.
“It’s vitally important,” Iverson said of food drives. “We start to lose out on our food drives during the summer because a lot of our food drives are conducted by the schools.”
The team that brings in the most pounds of food and can build the tallest food pyramid will win bragging rights for the year.
“We have to beat Richmond County,” said Beeland, with a laugh. “They’re bigger than us, so we really have to work harder, but we can do this.”