As the director of the Johnstown-Northridge Community Food Pantry, Ruth Krumm has seen people at their best and at their worst.
"It breaks your heart sometimes," she said. "An older woman came in once, saying she didn't want to do this. She was just in tears and said she would return (the food) when she could."
The need continues to be great, said Krumm, who at 91 drives to the food pantry within the Johnstown Independent Baptist Church, 7397 Johnstown Alexandria Road, three times a week.
The message of giving is even more important this week as the food pantry embarks on its biggest donation drive of the year.
Northridge and Johnstown-Monroe school districts compete for honors of collecting the most food items. Collection boxes will be set up in classrooms, with students being asked to bring items to school.
Each food item is counted at the end of the collection period: Monday, Oct. 7, through Friday, Oct. 11.
Within the elementary schools, the class with the highest point total will receive a free pizza party from Johnnies Villa Pizza.
Students from the schools also provide assistance in sorting the items for the shelves.
"There's an awful lot of people who donate their time for this," said Dick Steyer, Knights of Columbus deputy grand knight. "Just about everyone is involved in some way, counting and sorting. We provide the lunch and drinks for volunteers."
Each canned good or item counts as a point, with monetary contributions of $1 being equal to 2 points. Last year, the winning school was Northridge, with 12,338 points for the entire school district and 8,146 points for the high school.
Northridge won the competitive collection.
Johnstown-Monroe had 6,218 total points and 1,094 points from the high school.
The total count from both districts was 18,556 units, with more than $3,500 in cash contributions.
In September, the food pantry helped 142 families, said Krumm, pantry director for more than 20 years.
By the end of the month, the shelves were nearly bare before Abercrombie & Fitch donated roughly 14,000 items.
Those interested in contributing to the pantry should call Krumm at 740-924-2835.