More than 50 volunteers left Heather Gaitonde's Evans home on a mission at 9 a.m. Saturday. They went to fight hunger and help the needy as part of the It's Spooky To Be Hungry food drive.
The Evans group, which consisted of Boy Scouts, children, teenagers and adults, several of whom were pulling red wagons, filled the streets of the Village of Rivershyre neighborhood, going door-to-door to collect money and canned food items to donate to Golden Harvest Food Bank.
"One of the great things about volunteering is that anyone can do it, and it doesn't take that much time," Susan Perfect, who has been volunteering with the group for five years, said of the 10th annual event. "All you need is a little bit of time, commitment and a whole lot of heart."
With the help of more than 100 neighborhoods and 20 school, civic and religious organizations, Evelyn Browne, founder and co-chairwoman of the drive, said this year's participation increased tremendously.
"This is our largest group yet," she said. "We've had so many people call us, wanting to participate. Overall, everything is just going fabulous."
In 2003, the group collected more than 61,000 pounds of food and $31,000 at the food bank's weigh-in. This year, Browne and Perfect said they hope the group will surpass that total at their weigh-in on Nov. 4.
"That's part of what's really exciting," Browne said. "When people see this huge amount of food collection, (which is made possible) one can at a time through neighborhoods and food drives, it's a great thing to see."
The drive, which is held on the fourth Saturday in October, is part of USA Weekend's national Make A Difference Day, which motivates people to spend a day volunteering.
Jeaneenn Husein, 18, said she had a religious reason for devoting her free time to the food drive.
"It's the holy month of Ramadan. That's why I'm doing charity work," said the Augusta State University freshman, who added that her community service ties in with her reverence to the Islamic month of blessings.
"Just being out here today lets me see how much the community cares," she said. "With the holidays coming up, people know what they can do for others. They want to give back to the community."
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