The Rotary Club of Westerville again is working to make it easier for residents to fill the cupboards of community members in need this holiday season.
The club will hold its ninth annual door-to-door holiday food drive beginning this weekend. The food drive will benefit the Westerville Area Resource Ministry.
Rotary Club volunteers will be on hand at the Westerville Tree Lighting Ceremony Friday, Dec. 6, to take donations of nonperishable food and personal-care items. The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. in the courtyard of the Westerville Municipal Building, 21 S. State St.
On Saturday, Dec. 7, hundreds of Rotary volunteers will hit the streets to deliver empty Kroger grocery bags to the doorsteps of about 10,000 homes in city neighborhoods.
Residents who receive the bags are asked to fill them with food and household items, and volunteers will return Saturday, Dec. 14, to collect the filled bags from front porches.
Also from 9 a.m. to noon on Dec. 14, the service club will have trucks and volunteers stationed at each Westerville Kroger -- 7345 N. State St., 55 E. Schrock Road and 5991 S. Sunbury Road -- to collect donations from shoppers.
"As people enter the store, we hand them a slip with recommended items that WARM can use. Usually, they'll shop for the items they need and pick up some items for WARM," said Dan Stanley, chairman of the Rotary food drive.
Last year's food drive collected 25,000 pounds of food for WARM, Stanley said, and volunteers hope to outdo that this year.
They're dropping off about 2,000 more bags at residents' doorsteps, and they've added a third collection spot -- the Sunbury Road Kroger store, Stanley said.
The items being sought by club as the most needed at the WARM food pantry are: canned fruit, canned chicken and tuna, canned pasta, juice, peanut butter, tomato products, hot chocolate, hot or cold cereal, shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant.
Rotary members also will collect cash donations for WARM: $25 can provide 18 meals for WARM clients, Stanley said.
The food drive started modestly, with a few Rotarians working with about eight Otterbein University students to collect food door to door, Stanley said.
It's grown each year to become an overwhelming success because of the support of the community, he said.
"Now, we have the fire department, police department, a lot of the civic associations and community service organization participate," he said. "It's grown into a citywide event and garnered a lot of participation, and we really appreciate that."
Stanley said he credits WARM's reputation with generating the support for the food drive.
"It's this time of year that people like to donate and give. I think WARM's been such an outstanding organization," he said. "They've just done a wonderful job in being able to harness the energies of the community to really channel it into good service."