A week before costumed children prowl the streets in the hunt for Halloween treats, volunteers will canvass residential areas in search of food for the hungry.
Volunteers for the 16th annual It's Spooky to be Hungry food drive will be collecting donations Saturday in many Columbia County neighborhoods for Golden Harvest Food Bank.
Golden Harvest provides food for charitable organizations in 30 counties in Georgia and South Carolina.
"Usually, the need for food is continuously growing as we ... are still in recession," said Harvey Bellamy, the Golden Harvest Spooky coordinator. "And going into the holidays, it does put more strain on the food bank and its delivery."
Spooky is Golden Harvest's largest food and donation drive. In 2009, the drive produced more than 109,000 pounds of food and more than $59,000 in donations. Every dollar donated can purchase $7 in food because of lower costs that result from private sector and factory-direct purchases, Bellamy said.
"That would equal around 321,871 meals provided to a 30-county radius, just from Spooky," he said.
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 now includes several chapters in Georgia and South Carolina and others in Mississippi, Massachusetts, Virginia and Texas. The flagship Augusta chapter is by far the largest.
Collections of nonperishable food items and money are traditionally held the Saturday before Halloween and in conjunction with Make A Difference Day.
"It has gotten so large," Bellamy said. "For it to start out with only three neighborhoods back in 1995 and here, 15 years later, you have over 200 neighborhoods and about 230 businesses ... that's incredible growth."
Neighborhood volunteers should be distributing pamphlets telling residents when they will collect. All residents have to do is leave donations of nonperishable food items outside to be collected Saturday, or another day designated by the volunteers.
Bellamy said there is a need this year for canned vegetables, canned fruit and canned meat.
He said he's looking for more volunteers to help with collections in three subdivisions -- Bridlewood, Heritage Hill and Bay Hill. More volunteers are needed after the collection day to help sort donations.
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