DECATUR – Members of the community came together Friday afternoon at St. Patrick School to honor the schools and contributors of the 15th Annual WSOY Community Food Drive.
During the event, the top five schools that collected the most food during the drive were awarded monetary prizes.
The school collecting the most for this year's food drive was St. Patrick School. The school received a check for $2,500. Other winning schools were Mount Zion High School, second place; Our Lady of Lourdes, third place; Warrensburg-Latham High School, fourth place; and Eisenhower High School, fifth place.
“This is shaping you as an individual, to give back and to serve others,” said Kevin Breheny, J.L. Hubbard Insurance and Bonds. “Instead of just talking about it, you just did it. All of us adults honor you and are proud of you.”
Monetary donations collected during the food drive were distributed to community agencies, including Catholic Charities for $150,000, Salvation Army for $150,000, Northeast Community fund for $80,000, Good Samaritan Inn for $80,000, Reasonable Service for $50,000, and the Judy Mason Thanksgiving Basket Project for $20,000. Micro grants of $2,500 were also given to the Mound Free Methodist Food Pantry and the Blue Mound Food Pantry.
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The annual food drive was held Oct. 7 in the Airport Plaza Kroger parking lot. Members of the community drove through the designated area delivering canned and boxed food as well as cash donations. Volunteers, businesses and organizations who contributed to the food drive's success were also honored during the ceremony.
This year the drive collected more than 1.4 million pounds of food which is the equivalent of filling 18 semitrucks.
Kyle Karsten, Salvation Army's director of development and community relations, is amazed each year by the success of event. “That just keeps on showing what our community is all about,” he said. “Our community comes together to bless others in the community.”
Breheny, Neuhoff Media's Brian Byers and John Skeffington of Skeff Distributing began the food drive 15 years ago. As the years passed, the trio has relied on the community to help the event grow and break its goal each year.
This year, they again honored the organizations and businesses for their contributions to the food drive. “It is the generosity of the sponsors that provides us all the money and to get the word out,” Byers said.
Businesses and organizations honored during the ceremony included Team Soy (Soy Capital Bank and J.L. Hubbard); Kroger; First Christian Church; Dale's Southlake Pharmacy and Colee's Corner Drugs; The United Way; Ticket 'n' Trips; Jones & Thomas/JTnet; Decatur Back and Neck Center; WAND-TV; Herald & Review; Skeff Distributing; ADM; Dyna Graphics Wood Printing; and the Community Foundation.
Byers distributed other awards to businesses and volunteers for their help in propelling the food drive to another successful year. The awards include the Geoffrey Neuhoff Spirit Award, given to Jeff Daly, for his work as a volunteer, and the Good Neighbor Awards given to Refreshment Services Pepsi, United Way and Kroger.
Although the monetary donations were distributed during the ceremony, much of the food was sent to the agencies during the day of the October food drive.
Salvation Army Maj. Wesley Dalberg said the effects of the food drive are still being felt.
“This is the most giving community that I have ever been involved with,” he said. “This is a great place to be from.”