Hundreds of volunteers will unload thousands of cans of food Friday as the Salvation Army holds its largest event of the year — the can-a-thon.
The can-a-thon is the only food drive the Salvation Army holds and it nets enough food to last most of the year, according to Salvation Army Capt. Jason Smith.
“This drive sustains our food pantry for about 10 months,” Smith said.
Last year, the drive gathered 68,531 cans and other nonperishable food items.
“We are hoping for 100,000 cans this year,” Smith said. “That would be enough for 12 full months.”
The drive will be at The Forum, 301 Tribune St., from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday. Volunteers are still needed to help out, Smith said. If anyone wants to volunteer, they may come to the event when they can or call the Salvation Army at 706-291-4745.
“We usually get a major rush around 10 a.m., when the schools start dropping off cans they’ve collected, but any time people can come would be great,” Smith said.
If someone wants to donate, all nonperishables are welcome, he added. Peanut butter, rice, spaghetti, canned meat, box dinners such as Hamburger Helper, instant mashed potatoes and items with pop-tops are especially helpful.
“The pop-top servings of fruit or meats are great to have, because sometimes even though we serve a hot meal every day at 5:30 p.m., often we have people come in who haven’t eaten in a while,” Smith explained. “So we give them a container of meat or fruit so they have something before the meal.”
The majority of the food goes to the pantry that helps sustain the grocery assistance program, which provides emergency assistance to people who need it. Those who receive the bags get enough food to feed a family for a week, Smith said.
Food also is used to fill Christmas bags for senior citizens.
About 85 percent of the donations come from schools, but anyone is welcome to come by and donate. Volunteers will show people where to drive and will come to the cars to unload items, if necessary.
“The whole thing is planned for the convenience for those who want to donate,” Smith said. “Every can counts, so please bring something. So many people suffer from food insecurity, so it all helps.”
All of the food stays in Rome and Floyd County, he added.
“We owe so much to our community,” Smith said. “Everyone really comes through for us and helps us. I think this community works to make sure hungry people get food, no one wants to see someone go hungry.”