GOSHEN — With a prayer of hope and asking for the goodness of others, the quest began.
As several Concord High School football players waited to begin unloading and helping weigh food, a teammate blew the horn on a semi truck signalling the start of the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Food Drive at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 20.
If things go well, by 1 p.m. Monday, the fair may be in line to have a place in the 2015 Guinness Book of World Records.
Shelly Steury, the co-chairman of the Fair Food Committee, is hopeful the fair can collect 560,000 pounds of food in the 24-hour period to top the record held by the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Food Drive, which collected 559,885 pounds of food in Durham, N.C., on March 5, 2011.
“I know it’s a lot of food and setting the record is a bit of a longshot, but it’s still exciting to think about what can happen,” Steury said. “But no matter what, we’re going to be putting a lot of food in the hands of Church Community Services and the Food Bank of Elkhart County.”
To put it in perspective, though, Steury said that even if the record is set, it will only cover the needs of Elkhart County for half a year.
“There is a great need for food in the county and we’re just trying to do our part,” Steury said. “Last year was the first year we started the food drive at the fair, so this would be a very big step for us to set a record.”
Northridge High School’s girls tennis team and cheerleaders were walking the parade route on Sunday to pick-up donations — either food or money — to bring back to the fairgrounds.
According to Steury, there will be people going to the grocery store late on Sunday evening and early Monday to turn the money raised into non-perishable food items for the drive.
“We love having people donate money, we just have to get to the store to purchase the food to help us try to set the record,” Steury explained. “I plan on making some trips to the store and we’ll probably have someone going at around midnight once things slow down at the fair.”
However, those wishing to make donations after the fair closes may do so outside Gate 2 at anytime during the 24-hour period, as volunteers plan to be there all night.
“The way the communities have come together already has been amazing,” Steury said. “We have a church group here from Michigan that saw our posts on Facebook and just wanted to be involved somehow. We have a group of boy scouts that will be here to do some of the heavy lifting, as well as the Concord football team. It’s just been fun to watch.”
In addition to Facebook, Steury has used other forms of social media, as well television and newspaper coverage to get the word out about the food drive.
Anyone interested in donating has until 1 p.m. on Monday to bring the non-perishable items to the fair to help and try to set the record.
“But don’t forget, the Food Bank can use your help all year, not just in this 24-hour period,” Steury noted. “We know this will help, but it the need is always there to keep the shelves full.”