The Empty Pantry Fund has finished 2017 with donations totaling $108,335.87.
EPF President Lon Fox said all donations received after Dec. 29 will be included in the first listing for the 2018 campaign, which will kick off in November.
“All bills are paid for 2017 and the Board will have the ability to continue improving the food basket in 2018 for the recipients,” Fox said. “This year, we exchanged a few items and included three additional items in each of the baskets. We plan to continue to make some more changes and additions to the baskets during 2018.”
Fox noted the generosity of Blount County residents who contributed funds and time to the 65-year-old program which provides food to less-fortunate citizens at Christmas. Without volunteers who pack the foods and then deliver them to recipients’ homes the Sunday before Christmas, the project would not be as successful as it has been.
“We had hundreds of volunteers — individuals, families, groups, young and old — who assisted with packing night,” Fox said. “It is amazing the number of volunteers who come to push buggies, pack food items, throw away or recycle boxes/plastic and stack the baskets at the end.”
Hundreds of volunteers signed up for distribution routes during packing night, as well, assuring that more than 1,300 families would have a happier Christmas. “We had more people wanting to deliver routes than we had routes to deliver,” Fox added. “We had a large number of Junior Service League families, National Guard members, Scouts, Jaycees, AmVets, church groups and numerous families who delivered routes that Sunday morning. Some family members are second-, even third-generation volunteers who have taken routes for over 30 years.”
He expressed a special thanks to other groups and individuals for their part in making the Empty Pantry Fund a success, including the Blount County Roads Department for assistance in unloading the semis filled with food items to be organized at the Tennessee Army National Guard Armory in advance of packing night; members of the Kroger team for their tireless efforts to secure food items and arrange the logistics of shipping all of the items; and Sgt. Michael Huskey and the National Guard members who allow the use the Armory to pack and distribute the baskets of food.
The Empty Pantry Fund accepts donations year-round. For more information, visit the website at www.emptypantryfund.com or see The Empty Pantry Fund Facebook page.
Donations to date include:
BALANCE FORWARD, $107,105.87
In loving memory of Helen Southards by Carroll Southards, $30
Freeland and Nancy Godfrey, $100
Charles R. Graves family, $100
In memory of Russ West by Steve and Ruth West, $300
Rick and Mary Patton, $200
Donna Alexander, $50
TOTAL – THANK YOU, $108,335.87