Rotary food drive helps stock charity shelves

The Concord Rotary Club is adding new collection barrels and collection sites at more grocery stores for its annual "Can-a-Thon" one-day food drive Saturday.

For 32 years, members of the service club have volunteered at area grocery stores on a December Saturday, asking shoppers to buy a few extra items to donate to the Salvation Army's food pantry.

On Nov. 30, Mayor Scott Padgett declared Dec. 4-10 "Rotary Can-a-Thon Week." At the ceremony, Padgett (a member of the Concord Rotary Club) officially started the drive by donating the first canned food item.

The drive helps restock the food pantry's empty shelves each December. According to Sgt. Terry Hertzog of the Salvation Army's Concord unit, the food collected during last year's event helped the organization serve its clients until early March.

The volunteers will hand out fliers with suggested food items to donate at 10 locations this year. Then they will collect the donated food items as shoppers leave the stores.

The Salvation Army will pick up the collected items periodically throughout the day. The Salvation Army's traditional red kettles will also be out for monetary donations.

Because of the increased demand for food assistance by families in the Cabarrus County community, the Concord Rotary has added four stores this year, including the Wal-Mart Supercenters at Concord Mills and at Northlite Shopping Center. Six Concord-area Food Lion stores and two Harris-Teeter stores are also participating.

Other groups providing volunteers for the food drive are the Southwest Cabarrus Rotary Club, the Afton Sunset Rotary Club, the Keystone Club (a youth program of the Boys & Girls Club of Cabarrus County) and local high school Interact clubs (a service club sponsored by Rotary).

The Concord club's goal is to collect at least 10,000 food items.

"We set a record of over 9,000 food items last year," Can-a-Thon chairman Zac Moretz said. "We need to do even more this year to sustain the food pantry through the cold winter months."

Hertzog said the Salvation Army appreciate the efforts of the Concord Rotary Club and community.