The town of Gilbert’s goal for its annual food drive was to raise a tad more than 70,000 meals for United Food Bank during its monthlong event. It ended up donating far more than that.
The town announced during an event on Thursday morning it accumulated enough food and money through its Feeding Families community food drive to provide 114,586 meals for UFB. The figure is almost 40,000 more than the target total of 72,600, which the town came up with by multiplying the number of square miles within the town’s confines, 72.6, by 1,000.
“I though we would beat the goal; I didn’t expect it to be as high as it was,” said Gilbert Town Council member Jordan Ray.
This is the fourth year the town has organized a food drive to benefit UFB, and the results have increased from just more than 1,000 in 2010 to an estimated 50,000 in 2013 to the 100,000-plus mark this year.
Efforts to garner the meals ranged from a “bag-off” featuring local leaders hosted at an Albertsons in early June to tying a pair of radio hosts to a flagpole. The town also received a slew of donations from organizations and companies — one group alone donated 40,000 pounds of potatoes — to accompany the dollars and food raised by residents and town staff.
UFB chairman Bill Warren said events like the one Gilbert coordinated are vital to keeping the food bank, which serves the East Valley, Maricopa County and Gila and Pinal counties, stocked with items. The summer, he said, is particularly difficult given the number of children who no longer have access to meals through their schools and even for senior citizens.
“We have to make sure bellies are full and that’s not a concern they have to worry about,” he said. He also challenged the town to increase its fundraising goal exponentially for 2015’s event.
Those clients also include residents of Gilbert — a town known for its high education level and a median income more than $30,000 above the state average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But Ray pointed out the town does have its fair share of residents in need of help, and the proceeds from the fundraiser will go to support families in need of help.
Ray credited the efforts of the town’s residents, government and businesses for recognizing that need and for the willingness to look out for their neighbors.
“It’s amazing; it goes to show what the community of Gilbert is all about,” he said.
Click here to see video from the event.
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