Before the ghosts and goblins of Halloween go knocking on doors in search of sweet treats, neighborhoods will be canvassed by another group - those looking to feed the hungry.
Volunteers for the 14th annual It's Spooky to be Hungry food drive will be collecting donations this month for the Golden Harvest Food Bank in many Columbia County neighborhoods.
Golden Harvest provides food for charitable organizations in a total of 30 counties in Georgia and South Carolina.
"Spooky to be Hungry couldn't come at a better time," Barry J. Forde, Golden Harvest associate director, wrote in an e-mail.
Forde wrote that summer is the busiest time for the food bank, providing food for the many children out of school. That combined with the fact that donations have been lower than normal during the past six months, the rising costs of fuel and food costs, and the increased demand, means the pantry's supply is at an all-time low.
"The grocery items from Spooky will help to fill those empty shelves and the dollars raised will enable Golden Harvest to continue to bring in food supplies from local donors and other food banks across the country," Forde wrote.
Spooky was founded in Minnesota in 1992 by Evelyn Browne, who brought the food drive with her when she moved to Columbia County in 1995. The drive has grown to include chapters in metro Atlanta, the Carolinas, Texas, Virginia, Mississippi and Massachusetts.
Collections of non-perishable food and other items and money are traditionally held the Saturday before Halloween and in conjunction with Make a Difference Day.
Denise Knight, Spooky Community chair, said the drive gets bigger each year.
"People just really enjoy it," Knight said, adding that volunteers range from toddlers to the elderly. "It is fun. It is whole family involvement."
Last year, more than 200 neighborhoods and 145 businesses, churches and other "non-neighborhood" sites participated and collected more than $55,000 and 119,000 pounds of food.
"That's over 350,000 meals," Knight said.
Donating to Spooky is easy, Knight said. Neighborhood volunteers will distribute pamphlets a few days before they plan to collect, which could run from Oct. 11 through Oct. 25. All residents have to do is leave the donations of non-perishable items outside to be collected on the designated day.
"Anything non-perishable," Knight said. "But the baby food, diapers, anything baby-related, obviously is helpful. Geriatric assistance, like Depends and that kind of thing is useful as well, because they have got people of all needs. But it does need to be non-perishable."
Knight said several neighborhoods that participated last year need volunteer captains this year including, Carson, Crawford Mill, Deerwood Estates/Marshall Point, Eagle Landing, Eagle Ridge, Euchee Creek, Gibbs Landing, Merrymont, Northwood, Rose Pointe, Sweetbriar and Woodberry Pointe.
Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Golden Harvest at (706) 736-1199.
Many Columbia County businesses are serving as collection drop-off locations this year, including The Columbia County News-Times office, Columbia County Library, Columbia County Magazine, all Queensborough National Bank and Trust branches, Wild Birds Unlimited, Dino's Chicago Express, Coco's Cabana, Goolsby's and Jumpin' Party Zone USA.
For information, visit www.spookytobehungry.org, e-mail email@example.com or call (706) 736-1199.
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