Over the weekend, the Van Wert Fire Department and the Sheriff's Office were at Walmart collecting food donations for the local United Way food pantries as part of the Stuff The Truck Challenge. Vantage Criminal Justice students assisted both days. (DHI Media/Sherry Missler)
Over the weekend, the Van Wert Fire Department and the Sheriff's Office were at Walmart collecting food donations for the local United Way food pantries as part of the Stuff The Truck Challenge. Vantage Criminal Justice students assisted both days. (DHI Media/Sherry Missler)
By JIM LANGHAM
News Correspondent
info@timesbulletin.com
VAN WERT – As a precursor to this year’s Day of Caring food drive on Sept. 27, the Van Wert County Fire Department and Sheriff’s Office challenged each other to a weekend food drive at Walmart this past weekend.
“Jeff Welker, manager at the Van Wert Walmart, said that we could collect at their location for this past Saturday and Sunday,” said Van Wert United Way executive director Vicki Smith. “This was a new event this year. To say the least, it was a total success. There is probably not a jar of peanut butter left in Van Wert.”
A total of 3,553 items were collected, including 2,153 items by the Sheriff’s Office and 1,400 by the Fire Department.
Karen Lautzenheiser, United Way official who assisted with the project, noted that food would be divided between The Salvation Army, The Banquet Table at Trinity Friends Church and Van Wert Area Cooperative Ministries at the United Methodist Church.
“The weekend effort especially got a boost of assistance from the Vantage criminal justice class,” said Smith.”They were a great group to work with. They were a real asset to the day."
Damon Sherry, a student in the class, said that he and fellow classmates have been shocked at the number of food needs there are in the community.
“We came here for someone in the Van Wert area who has needs,” said Sherry. “There are many people in the area that can’t afford the groceries they need. This gives an opportunity to feed a family.”
“It’s an amazing way for you to help someone,” commented Owen Carnahan, also a student. “It’s easy access for the community to get food.”
“Some people don’t have enough income for support. It’s amazing how many kids won’t have enough food on the table when they get home. It’s so nice to be able to make somebody’s day,” added student Jose Aquilar-Montiel.
Both departments are still collecting food items at their departments for the remainder of the food drive challenge. The actual day of the event, Sept. 27, the losing department will be announced and the winner will get to watch the losing department in a friendly challenge.
“We would like to thank (Sheriff) Tom Riggenbach and (Fire Chief) Jon Jones for the support in this new event,” said Smith.
Mike Smith from Trinity Friends Church said this was an overwhelming response from the community.
“The pantry was very low on peanut butter so the drive was a true blessing,” said Smith. “Together we can make a change.”
“The community has really done a great job supporting the United Way’s efforts to Stuff the Food Truck as part of The Day of Caring project that they are spearheading this September,” said Sheriff Tom Riggenbach on Sunday. “We’re super excited for everything that has happened.”