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Youth groups needed for major Rowan Helping Ministries food drive

More than 40 youth groups are needed to canvass area neighborhoods at Halloween — not to collect treats for themselves but to gather food for families in need.

Rowan Helping Ministries’ annual event, Trick of Treat So Others May Eat, will kick off Oct. 18 when church youth groups, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, and other youth organizations begin distributing event information and food collection bags in Rowan County neighborhoods. The groups will return to their assigned neighborhoods by Oct. 25 to collect donated food. Food pick-up dates will be included in the event information attached to collection bags.

Youth teams will turn in donated food on Sunday, Oct. 25 during a pizza party hosted by Rowan Helping Ministries. The team that turns in the most food will be awarded the “Heavy Weight Champions” trophy to display for a year. Last year’s winning team was the youth group at Nazareth Community Church.

The Trick or Treat So Others May Eat event is held annually to replenish Rowan Helping Ministries’ Food Pantry, which serves about 25 pounds of groceries to an average of 86 families each weekday.

Melissa Shue, event coordinator and a volunteer for Rowan Helping Ministries, said she was shocked when she learned how much food the agency distributes to needy families.

“The need for food in our community is great,” Shue said. “I thought the amount of food my church collects (over 4,000 pounds) sounded like a lot, but then I realized we were providing about three days’ worth of food. Each weekday, Rowan Helping Ministries distributes about 2,200 pounds of food to families who are struggling.”

That amount of food would fill about two pickup trucks. Last year’s event generated 18,000 pounds of donated food, said Emily Huffman, crisis assistance volunteer coordinator for Rowan Helping Ministries. This year, event participants hope to collect enough food to distribute to clients for a month.

“We want to reiterate that a lot of clients seeking help from Rowan Helping Ministries are those who work but are struggling to provide for their families,” Shue said. “Especially in hot and cold weather when utility bills are higher, they are having to make tough choices about which bills to pay and how to afford groceries.”

A record 30 organizations participated in the 2014 Trick or Treat So Others May Eat event. Those interested in participating this year can attend an informational meeting on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. at Rowan Helping Ministries’ Robertson-Stanback Center at 217 N. Long St.

For more information about the event and how you can participate or donate food, call Huffman at 704-637-6838, ext. 112.

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