By Kim West and Rebecca Croomes
The News Courier
Volunteers estimated between 10,000 and 15,000 food items were donated to the 20th annual WAFF 48 Can-a-thon in Athens on Dec. 6.
Lowe’s served as the Limestone County drop-off point during the 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. canned food drive, which collected more than 18,000 locally-donated items in 2011.
Since 1992 the Can-a-thon has brought in more than 3 million cans of food across the Tennessee Valley, according to WAFF General Manager Vanessa Oubre.
All local donations were delivered to the Athens-Limestone Food and Shelter in Tanner. The shelter has provided food, rent and utilities assistance to more than 2.400 families this year, according to Shelter Director Laura Aldridge.
Can-a-thon volunteers included Food and Shelter board member Nick Patterson, Al Martin and Bob Harrell. They reported loading so much food into the transport van that the back tires nearly went flat.
Food donations trickled in consistently throughout the day from individuals, schools and businesses, including items from Piggly Wiggly and several cash donations totaling $55.
Athens Bible School claimed the unofficial collection crown with a mid-day delivery of 13 barrels containing 4,000 cans of food.
Aldridge, who volunteered during the shifts at sunrise and sunset, said most donors brought two or three bags of food they had purchased rather than pantry items.
“We have a full lobby at our food bank, and we still have more to unload,” she said. “Most of the donations included five or six of the same item, and it wasn’t like people brought a leftover can of green beans or peas from their pantries. I think people went out and bought food.”
She estimated more than $10,000 in food donations had been raised during the 12-hour drive.
“I am very pleased and again thank the people in Limestone County for their continued support,” Aldridge said. “It never ceases to amaze me how wonderful people are in our county.”