NAPPANEE — Volunteers who organize a city-wide food drive in Nappanee every year are seeing donations lag, but they won’t be quitting.
Roxy Elphick, administrative assistant at Nappanee United Methodist Church, said that the “Million Can March” drive collected more than 9,000 cans of food in its first year in 2004. Last year, just more than 5,000 cans were donated. The food goes to Open Door food pantry in Nappanee.
“Each year we have probably collected a little bit less,” Elphick said, citing the slow economy as a reason why some people aren’t donating.
She added, “Our numbers have dwindled, but that’s still 5,000 cans or boxes of food that (the food pantry) didn’t have before. So that’s still a good project.”
Elphick estimated that at least 100 members of the congregation work on the food drive each year. Martin’s Super Market donates grocery bags and a flier explaining the food drive is stapled to each bag. The bags are then distributed to every home in Nappanee.
“We have the whole city divided into sections and different individuals or groups in the church drop off the bags,” Elphick explained. “Then the same people pick the bags up the following Saturday and all the food is sorted.”
After the donated food is sorted into boxes, city employees pick up the food and take it to the food pantry.
John Personett, a member of Nappanee United Methodist Church, said he started volunteering with the Open Door food pantry about three years ago after getting involved in the Million Can March drive.
“Basically, (the Million Can March) provides about two months worth of the food that Open Door needs for the year,” Personett said. “We hand out about 120 boxes of food a month.”
Anyone who lives in the Wa-Nee school district can go to Open Door and pick up one box of food each month, Personett said. In the past three years that Personett has been volunteering at Open Door, he said the need for food has remained about the same.
“We are always having new people (come in), but some of the same people are coming that were coming three years ago,” Personett said.
Bags were dropped off for the Million Can March last Saturday, Aug. 17, and the food will be picked up this Saturday, Aug. 24.
Elphick, Nappanee United Methodist Church administrative assistant, said participating in the food drive is simple. Just put any nonperishable food items inside the provided bag and place it back outside to be picked up. Volunteers with the church, the city employees and Open Door food pantry workers take care of the rest.
She noted that this year’s Million Can March is taking place in August instead of November to avoid confusion with other food drives that take place in the fall time in Nappanee.
With questions about the Million Can March or for more information on how to participate contact Elphick at Nappanee United Methodist Church, 773-4183.