GREENFIELD — For the first time since its inception seven years ago, the 40,000 Pounds of Giving lived up to its name.
Saturday, the annual food drive collected more than 41,000 pounds of food to distribute to seven local organizations. Thanks to strong support from several community groups, local businesses and a 23,000-pound donation from Gatorade, the drive nearly doubled its total from last year. A semitrailer was parked at the Greenfield Wal-Mart to collect the donations.
“I was a little surprised myself,” said Carl Denny, 40,000 Pounds founder. “When we were at 39,886 pounds, I knew we were going to reach our goal. I’m just incredibly thankful and happy.”
Denny has been growing the event each year since he started in 2006. He’s also added more organizations to his list, dividing the food up this year among the Hancock County Food Pantry, Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen, Hancock Hope House, Angel Connection, Main Street Food Pantry, Brandywine Community Church Food Pantry and McCordsville United Methodist Church Food Pantry.
Denny said the organizations work well together to give and take depending on needs. Organizations that serve the most clients take the greatest share of the food. When one organization has enough of one item already, they pass extras on to other groups. Home and toiletry items go to Hope House, Hancock County’s sole homeless shelter.
Because it is the largest food assistance organization in the county, the Hancock County Food Pantry receives the largest share of the donated food items. Executive Director Tom Ferguson said the organization was grateful to be part of such a successful effort. Food drives are critical to keeping pantry doors open and food on the shelves.
“We have a monthly budget for the purchase of food, but the fact of the matter is true donations ... provide half or better of the total food that we’re able to give out,” Ferguson explained.
The event has grown over the years from grassroots support of local service clubs, businesses and individuals. Denny said 2,000-pound donations from both Kiwanis and Rotary clubs and a 4,000-pound donation from Keihin helped put the drive over the top.
“The rest was just one can at a time,” he said.
If Denny has anything to say about it, the food pantry and other organizations will be able to count on such donations for years to come.
Though he has moved out of the county, Denny has no plans to move the event.
“In December 2013, Hancock County can expect 40,000 pounds again,” Denny said. “Our goal next year is to exceed 41,000 pounds.”