Volunteers from the Westerville Area Resource Ministry will toss out candy during this year's Independence Day parade, but they will also be asking the crowd to toss a few items back.

Volunteers from the Westerville Area Resource Ministry will toss out candy during this year's Independence Day parade, but they will also be asking the crowd to toss a few items back.

As part of its third Independence Day food drive, WARM volunteers will canvass the curbside during the parade, accepting canned goods and other non-perishables in an effort to keep the food pantry well-stocked for the summer months, according to executive director Scott Marier.

"I think last year we gathered just under a ton (of food), and several hundred dollars in donations," Marier said. "This year we'll have a pick-up truck with flags and banners displaying the motto 'Helping People Win Freedom from Hunger,' and there will be about 50 volunteers walking on the street, wearing WARM T-shirts in festive colors."

Marier said that any size of donation, large or small, will be accepted during the parade. As an example, he said, if every person who attends the Independence Day parade were to bring one 16-ounce can of food, about 18,000 pounds would be collected, translating into about 10,000 meals for needy residents.

Marier said that any non-perishable good will be accepted, but that at this time of year WARM could especially use boxed cereal, canned fruit, peanut butter and picnic condiments.

"Think about what sort of things your kids would eat over the summer, and that's what we could use," Marier said.

In its third year, the food drive isn't quite yet a tradition, but it could become one, Marier said.

"We're hoping that in about five years that it will be a tradition, and that we could be collecting five to ten tons of food along the parade," he said.

Westerville's Independence Day parade will begin at 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 4, and will take place along State Street in Uptown Westerville.