LIMA — It was barely 8 a.m. and cars were already lined up around the parking lot at Northland Plaza and almost two blocks down North Main Street, all waiting to receive food from cold, yet smiling volunteers braving the 12 degree temperatures to help their neighbors.
This scene was made possible by The Big Drop, a massive food distribution event organized by Community United Methodist Church and the West Ohio Food Bank with the support of other area churches and businesses.
“I would safely say this is our largest single distribution of the year,” said Gary Bright, CEO of the West Ohio Food Bank. “It’s somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 pounds of food given out in one day.”
For Michele Imler, the missions director at Community United Methodist Church, previous experience with this event made for a smooth distribution this time around.
“This is the fourth time we’ve done it, and I think we’ve got all the kinks out,” she said. “We’re getting very organized.”
Imler was amazed at the generous response from the community in helping to make this event happen.
“I bet we had 300 volunteers over the course of the week to bring this all together,” she said. “I had no problem filling enough volunteer positions. I even had people calling yesterday wanting to help. We’re coming past the holiday season, and people are still in their hearts wanting to help.”
“The church, through Harvest for the Hungry, has got a great group of volunteers here,” Bright said. “The trucking companies really helped us out, through Dancer Logistics, Wannemacher Trucking and Stoops Freightliner. They all helped get these semitrailers here, along with working out all the logistics, since we at the Food Bank don’t have semis anymore.”
Volunteers distributed a total of 3,000 boxes of food, enough to feed 1,500 families, with each family receiving a bag of potatoes, a bag of apples, a box of dry goods and a box of frozen food.
“It’s a good mixture of things, enough to feed the families as nutritiously as we can,” Imler said.
The timing for this distribution was deliberate, as statistics verify that January is a month where food shortages are felt the most among needy families. For Imler, these events bring out a wide variety of people with an equally wide variety of backgrounds, all who share a common need.
“People are hurting for all kinds of reasons,” she said. “Maybe they don’t have food because of situations we have no idea about, but they’re here and they need the food, and we have people who want to serve them.”
Bright was pleased that this event highlights a pressing need in the community.
“This helps with awareness, letting people know that hunger is still out there,” he said. “A good thing to keep in mind too is we have 30 or so soup pantries and kitchens doing this 365 days a year.”
For this day, at least, each volunteer was able to leave knowing they helped a large number of people in need.
“It feels good to do things for the community,” volunteer Dave Johnson said. “It’s great to make people smile. “