MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - For the 10th year, the WMC Action News 5 and the Mid-South Food Bank teamed up for the Holiday Food Drive.
This year the Mid-South was more generous than ever! We collected 24,224 pounds of food (nearly 3,000 more than last year) and $62,784 in monetary donations ($2,000 more than last year). All donations go to help stock the Mid-South Food Bank.
Those donations equal 209,000 meals for people in need.
Thank you so much for being part of this great cause, and remember you can donate any time during the year to the Mid-South Food Bank.
Volunteers set up outside six Mid-South stores Wednesday to collect donations to benefit those in need.
As a thank you, donors received a Chick-Fil-A gift card for their generosity.
The food bank is able to turn a $1 donation into three meals.
"We can buy a lot more [with donations] than if a donor went to the store and picked up 10 cans of food. For every dollar, we can provide three meals," Mid-South Food Bank CEO Estella Mahue-Greer said.
The 2017 drive started with generous donors up bright and early to help out.
"Our people in Germantown have a great amount of kindness and giving," Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo said. "I've seen it this morning, so many bright faces even though it's cold. We're making a difference to the people of the Mid-South."
Palazzolo set out a challenge to everyone in Germantown to donate more than their neighbors in Collierville.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland stopped by the Midtown Kroger to join in the donations.
"The Mid-South Food Bank is extraordinarily important for our entire region," Strickland said. "We have a lot of people who, frankly, go to bed hungry. A lot of children who don't have enough food on a daily basis. And this event sort of highlights it, stocks their shelves. It's the Christmas season: we need to think about giving to others, and thank goodness the Mid-South Food Bank is there to help us do that."
Mahue said soup cans are one of the best items to donate, along with beans, canned meat, peanut butter, and any food good for children.
"We use the money from this food drive and any food drive to purchase the nutritious food," Mid-South Food Bank employee Marsha Wells said. "We only use it to get the high nutrition value food, the stuff that doesn't get donated in high quantities. Because we want people to have good food, not just anything."
As many as 400,000 people in the Mid-South, including 114,000 children, are food insecure and are in need of food donations.
"Food insecure just simply means that they don't know where their next meal is coming from. I think sometimes people think that's just the homeless populations or individuals who aren't working, but actually we serve a lot of the working poor," Mid-South Food Bank employee Lakeisha said. "So it could be the person you sit next to at church, or it could be your neighbor."
Dustin Smith of Smith's Plumbing Services accepted donations at his business in Bartlett, and those donations went into the food drive as well.
"Our team just wanted to give back to the community that's helped us grow so much, and we thought the Mid-South Food Bank would be the perfect way to do that," Dustin Smith of Smith's Plumbing Services said.
A group of students from St. Benedict at Auburndale said they brought in $3,300 from a group of random donations in addition to cans they've collected through their own food drive. Student Nick Nolan even shaved his head to raise money!
In Germantown, Varco Pruden stopped by to donate a $7,500 check to the Mid-South Food Bank.
A representative said it's all about supporting their community.
"One of our goals is to give back to our community. We live and work in our communities, and our communities include people who are less fortunate than we are. So we want to be very generous this time of year."
Ron Childers and WMC Action News 5 Chief Meteorologist Emeritus Dave Brown got the gang back together at Walmart in Bartlett to help support the food drive.
They met up with Walmart Senior Director John Bisio, who came in from Fayetteville to join in the event. He said his group got together to present a $6,000 check to the food bank.
"From what I understand, that'll feed about 400 families this Christmas season, so it's really exciting. It's part of the whole 'live better' initiative of Walmart."
They also plan to donate 400 turkeys to the Mid-South Food Bank for the holidays.
In Southaven, Chick-Fil-A donated two new bicycles to support the food drive. The bikes went to two donors who pledged $250.
Tipton County Sheriff's Department delivered money and food at the Covington location.
TCSD's Shannon Beasley said it's very important for them to give back to the community they protect.
"We're fortunate to be able to do this, help the ones that are needy, less fortunate," Beasley said. "We appreciate the people being good to us, and we'll be good to them. Whatever we can do, we want to try to give back."
In Midtown Memphis, First Tennessee Bank's West Region donated a quarter of a million dollars to the Mid-South Food Bank's capital campaign. A donation that will make a huge difference for thousands of people in our communities.
For more information on the food drive, click here.